Over 2,000 residents of Arua in the West Nile region received free yellow fever vaccination on March 23 and March 24.
The two-day vaccination exercise was sponsored by the National Medical Stores (NMS). In a speech after the vaccination exercise, Arua district health officer Dr Paul Bishop Drileba said there is a high demand for yellow fever vaccines and requested for extended periods of vaccination to further boost the immunity of residents in the West Nile sub-region.
“We had a very good turnout of 2,300 people receiving their doses of the yellow fever vaccine. Honestly speaking, we appreciate this gesture by NMS and indeed the people of this side deserved it more and our request to NMS is to increase the doses going forward,” said Dr Drileba.
“It is very clear that the people appreciated this service. However, for NMS to fully vaccinate the people of Arua, we need like ten thousand doses and the campaign should run for five days,” he added.
In response, NMS’ public relations officer James Odong said the free exercise is “a token of our commitment to consistently contribute towards positive social development and better quality of life of Ugandans.”
“As NMS, we have noted the demand for the vaccine is high in Arua and we commit to continue enabling you and the entire country access quality medicines and vaccines as is your right. We urge you to also visit any health center where you can also access these vaccines. Prioritize your health at all times,” he emphasised.
NMS is mandated is to procure, store and distribute essential medicines and medical supplies (EMHS) to public health facilities across the country and has previously held similar vaccination campaigns in various districts as part of its corporate social responsibility agenda.
Moses Drani, 35, said the yellow vaccine will boost his immunity.
“I appreciate the vaccine, considering that I do cross-border trade hence being vulnerable to all sorts of diseases including yellow fever,” Drani said.
Yellow fever vaccination in Uganda is normally taken by people traveling out of the country, owing to its cost – about Shs 100,000 a shot. Yellow fever, like malaria, is transmitted through mosquito bites. Its symptoms include high fever, fatigue, headache, vomiting, blood in stool and yellowing eyes.
NMS has over the years carried out yellow fever vaccination activities in several parts of the country. Uganda is considered a high-risk country for yellow fever by the comprehensive global strategy to Eliminate Yellow fever Epidemics (EYE).
NMS general manager, Moses Kamabare emphasized that immunization remains the main strategic approach to prevent, contain and eliminate yellow fever outbreaks.
“NMS has been an active partner with the people of Uganda for 27 years and it is an honor that we shall continue to defend and maintain. NMS is passionate about your lives,” Kamabare said.