UNICEF supports campaign roll-out to protect thousands of children and women in additional nine, high-risk districts
KAMPALA, 10 November 2005 – UNICEF in Uganda today announced its support for an expanded campaign to immunize thousands of children and women against the threat of tetanus, with vaccinations being completed in nine, high-risk districts throughout this month.
The immunizations, organised by the Ministry of Health with the support of UNICEF, WHO, UNFPA and various NGO implementing partners, have taken and will take place in Bundibugyo, Hoima, Kamwenge, Kapchorwa, Kasese, Kiboga, Masaka, Pallisa and Sembabule Districts to reach more than 850,000 girls and women of childbearing age (13-49 years). The campaign in Masaka and Pallisa is being conducted between today and 13 November; and in Bundibugyo, Hoima, Kamwenge, Kasese, Kiboga and Sembabule during 24-27 November. Vaccinations in Kapchorwa were completed during 27-30 October.
A total of 20 districts have been selected by the Ministry of Health to each undergo three rounds of maternal and neonatal tetanus vaccination campaigns to attain coverage levels of 95 percent or above. The nine districts to be reached in this latest effort – and to be covered again next month – represent the final set in the national campaign.
Tetanus is a major threat to pregnant women and their babies, as infection is often contracted through non-sterile cutting of the umbilical cord and passed on to the newborn child. Antibodies provided by the Tetanus Toxoid (TT) vaccine, given to the mother, protect newborn children for the first two months of life when they will usually be vaccinated themselves.
In 2004, more than 700,000 girls and women of childbearing age were immunized with the TT vaccine in Arua, Kayunga, Luwero, Nebbi, Tororo and Yumbe Districts. In 2003, approximately 537,000 were reached in Bugiri, Iganga, Jinja, Kamuli and Mayuge. The immunization campaigns in these districts since 2002 have led to the reduction in reported maternal and neonatal tetanus cases from over 300 to fewer than 50 cases.
UNICEF is continuing to assist the expanded campaign through the provision of vaccines, training of health staff and mobilisation of communities.
For more information, please contact:
Chulho Hyun, UNICEF Uganda, +256 (0)77 222 347
Anne-Lydia Sekandi, UNICEF Uganda, +256 (0)77 409 016