BY RICHARD DRASIMAKU
ARUA: THURSDAY, DECEMBER 09, 2021
The ministry of health is targeting to inoculate 1.9 million people in West Nile in its latest push to scale Covid-19 vaccine uptake.
“Everybody must get vaccinated. Voluntarily get up where you are as a responsible citizen and get vaccinated,” Dr Jane Ruth Aceng, the minister of health appealed.
She was speaking at the launch of a mass Covid-19 vaccination campaign at Arua police grounds on Wednesday.
This is the fourth launch of regional mass vaccination against SARS-COV-2 but Dr Aceng said the results from the previous launches have been mixed.
She confirmed that while Kigezi region and Lango had done well with the health ministry achieving over 77% success rate, Teso’s vaccination rate was below average and Acholi sub-region was a disappointment.
While responding to complaints from the Arua City principal medical officer that the health facilities were running short of vaccines, Dr Aceng quipped: “we can flood this region with vaccines. We have more than enough vaccines for all eligible people.”
Dr Aceng added: “Through vaccination we shall interrupt the circulation of the virus and stop mutations.”
The minister said the detection of the Omicron variant in the country should not excite anyone but instead people should be excited about vaccination.
She counseled that scientists have not got any useful information about Omicron apart from it spreading faster than the Delta variant.
Dr Aceng reiterated President Yoweri Museveni’s commitment to reopen the economy by January but added that they do not want to see anybody dying of Covid-19 when they have the tools to end mortality.
She hinted that if Covid-19 situation worsens after reopening of the economy, the government will not re-impose another nationwide lock down but it will not hesitate to impose region specific lock-downs in the hot spots.
The Obongi district is currently the only hot spot district where infection rate stands at 16%, far above the national positivity rate of 1.1%, according to the minister.
Dr Aceng commended the medical staff in Arua city and Arua hospital for working hard to limit Covid-19 mortality.
Dr Philbert Nyeko, the Arua hospital director had indicated that there have been 81 confirmed Covid-19 deaths from the hospital since March 2020 when Coronavirus hit Uganda.
“”When you compare with other regions, you have done an extremely good job. Not because we lost 81 people but because you saved many lives,” Dr Aceng said.
However, she was alarmed by the report that health workers in West Nile were very opposed to jabbing themselves with Covid-19 vaccines.
Only 7% of the sub-region’s health workers have been vaccinated, something Dr Aceng warned was very dangerous because health workers are vulnerable since they interact with patients.
She said they could easily contract Covid-19 from patients or even infect the patients with Covid-19 that they could have got from somewhere else.
“Our target was to vaccinate 150,000 health workers and nationally we have achieved 97% of that target. We have been looking for where the 3,000 are, today we have found that they are in West Nile,” she said.
Dr Aceng tasked the Resident district commissioners, the district council chairpersons and other government officials to step up community mobilization for vaccination.