Nakasongola district has rolled out a free screening and vaccination campaign against the deadly hepatitis B disease. The Nakasongola District Health Officer, Dr. Agaba Byamukama, says the number of Hepatitis B infections and deaths in the district, is on the rise because it borders Northern Uganda, which has high prevalence rates.
According to the 2016 Uganda Population HIV Impact Assessment (UPHIA), the hepatitis b prevalence in Mid North stands at 4.6%, followed by North East 4.4%, and West Nile 3.8%. Byamukama explains that they petitioned Ministry of Health, which provided them with the first batch of 1218 doses for the mass vaccination against the disease to stem new infections.
Byamukama says the vaccines will be administered to residents at Health Center III and IV's across the district.
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Both local leaders and residents have welcomed the free hepatitis b vaccination, saying it's a relief. Sam Kigula, the Nakasongola district LC 5 Chairman, says most residents couldn't afford the cost of vaccination in private facilities, where a single dose goes for Shillings 30,000. A person needs three doses to complete the vaccination.
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Edward Kaweesi, a resident of Wabinyonyi sub county, says the intervention is timely, adding that he is ready to be vaccinated to save his life since he regularly interacts with people from Northern Uganda who could be infected with the disease.
Josephine Namukose, another resident asks the health officials to sensitise residents about the need for vaccination because many are not aware of how deadly the disease is and its prevention.
In the past prospective army recruits from Nakasongola have been turned away for testing positive to hepatitis b. According to World Health Organization, Hepatitis B is a viral infection that attacks the liver and can cause both acute and chronic disease.
Those infected are at high risk of death from cirrhosis and liver cancer. The virus is transmitted through contact with the blood or other body fluids of an infected person.
However, it can be prevented by vaccination. Statistics from the Health Ministry show that Uganda about 3.5 million (10% of population) are living with chronic hepatitis B.
According to the 2016 Uganda Population HIV Impact Assessment (UPHIA) the prevalence of active hepatitis B infection among adults was 4.3% (5.6% among men and 3.1% among women).