BY DAVID MAFABI
KAMPALA-The Government of Japan has given a US$1.5 million (UGX5,710,860,000) contribution to the United Nations Children’s Agency – UNICEF, to support the Government of Uganda to improve tacking of under-immunized and unimmunized children at the community level.
UNICEF will utilize the funds to roll out a digital health information system that will help reach unimmunized and under-immunized children with required vaccines, and those targeted for COVID-19 vaccination; assist health workers to plan for vaccination supplies, and track COVID-19 vaccination.
A recent “zero-dose” survey conducted in four urban districts revealed that there is still a significant number of children who are either not immunized or under-immunized.
According to the ministry of health, before a child celebrates their 1st birthday, they should have received BCG, Diphtheria-HepB-Hib, Hepatitis B, OPV, IPV, Rotavirus, Yellow Fever, Measles-Rubella, PCV vaccines while 10-year-old girls in school and community are required to receive the HPV vaccine.
But the absence of an accurate or near-accurate source of the actual number of children who have defaulted on vaccine doses, complex data collection forms, lack of a simplified way to visualize stock status, defaulters, and children due for immunization each month, difficulty in ensuring accurate monitoring of vaccine stocks, receipts and deliveries are some of the challenges impacting the way immunization services are delivered across the country.
H.E. Fukuzawa Hidemoto, the Ambassador of Japan to the Republic of Uganda thinks that once the digital tracking system is implemented, the Ministry of Health and partners will be able to improve the quality of services and coverage to reach the unimmunized and under-immunized wherever they are through outreaches and improved planning.
According to UNICEF a total of 350 health workers and 60 Ministry of Health and Regional Referral Hospital officials will directly benefit from this innovation while 1.3 million under 5 children in the pilot districts of Kamuli, Kampala, Kamwenge, Lamwo, Mukono, Ntungamo, and Wakiso, will benefit indirectly.
The UNICEF Representative to Uganda – Dr. Munir Safieldin (Ph.D.] says this intervention will also benefit 10 million under-five children at the national level and 21 million vaccinated children aged 12-18 years that will be vaccinated against COVID-19.
The government of Japan intends that these project targets are realized by the end of 2024.
“The Government of Japan is pleased to announce a US$1.5 million contribution to UNICEF, to support the Ministry of Health to implement a digitized health information micro-planning system that will address challenges experienced in the delivery of immunization services and achieve Universal Health Coverage (UHC),” said Mr Fuzukuzawa Hidermoto 5, Oct in Kampala
He said this donation is meant to honor a pledge made at the 8th Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD 8) held in August 2022, where Japan pledged to work on countermeasures against COVID-19, promotion of UHC, strengthening of health and medical systems, and building better health security.
With this financial support from the Japanese Government, UNICEF’s intervention will contribute to the improvement of the estimation of “zero-dose” children and better identification of where such children are located at the lower community level within the districts.
Dr Munir Safieldin (PhD.), says collecting accurate data in a timely manner will improve immunization coverage specifically through better estimates as to the quantity and location of the target population at the community level.
He added that with this funding from the Government of Japan, the Ugandan government, and with support from partners UNICEF will be able to better manage routine and supplementary immunization, COVID-19 vaccination, vitamin A supplementation, de-worming, and community nutrition screening data for Uganda.
He revealed that UNICEF will work closely with the Ministry of Health Uganda National Expanded Programme on Immunization, Health Information Management Division, and Community Health Department to implement the project.
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