Following an outbreak of measles in Kampala and Wakiso, the government has embarked on immunisation of children in the two districts, according to senior ministry of health officials and district health authorities.
The director general of Health Services in the ministry of Health, Dr Anthony Mbonye, said the ministry has put in place a number of measures to control the spread of the disease.
They include investigating the extent of spread of measles within the districts of Kampala and Wakiso and educating the public about the signs, symptoms and dangers of the disease.
“Others are undertaking routine immunisation programmes of children and management of all suspected cases. I appeal to the public to avoid direct contact with children infected or suspected to be infected with the disease,” he said.
Mbonye requested residents of the two districts to report suspected cases immediately and take any suspected children to nearby health facilities.
“Take unvaccinated children under five years of age for immunization to the nearest health facilities,” he said.
The Wakiso district health officer, Dr Mathias Seviiri, told The Observer yesterday the disease is likely to affect children aged six months to five years. He said the biggest number of victims is likely to be children who have never been immunized or failed to complete their doses.
“We are now undertaking daily vaccination at all the health centres in Wakiso district starting with babies of six months. We are putting emphasis on the most affected areas,” he explained.
According to Dr Seviiri, the most affected areas include Kasangati town council, Nansana municipality, Makindye Ssabagabo, Kira town council, Busukuma, Wakiso town council, and Gayaza.
Dr Anthony Mbonye said a total of 67 suspected cases of measles were confirmed in both Wakiso and Kampala. He said all the five divisions of Kampala, and several suburbs in Wakiso district are affected.
“Measles is an airborne disease that affects mainly children aged between six months and 10 years of age although it can also affect adults,” he said.
Some early symptoms of measles include high fever, whooping cough and red swelling eyelids, muscle and body aches, irritability, running nose, watery eyes and rashes.
Because it is an air-borne disease, it can spread very fast in heavily populated areas, of which both Kampala and Wakiso are. Some residents in Wakiso and Kampala districts claimed the measles outbreak was due to the increased number of refugees in the area.
However, the minister of Health, Jane Acheng, refuted the claims, saying, “We have cross-border control measures where we check all people entering the country.”