The Government of Japan has donated $1.5 million approximately 5.7 Billion Shillings to the United Nations Children’s Agency – UNICEF, to support the Government improve the tracking of under-immunized and unimmunized children at the community level.
According to Catherine Ntabadde the Spokesperson of Unicef, the money will be used 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. 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 are required to receive the HPV vaccine.
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 outreach and improved planning.
According to Ntabadde, 350 health workers and 60 Regional Referral Hospital officials will directly benefit from this innovation while 1.3 million children under the age of five in the pilot districts of Kamuli, Kampala, Kamwenge, Lamwo, Mukono, Ntungamo, and Wakiso, will benefit indirectly.
The intervention will also benefit 10 million children under the age of five at the national level and 21 million vaccinated children aged 12-18 years that will be vaccinated against Covid-19. The project targets are to be realized by the end of 2024.
“At the 8th Tokyo International Conference on African Development held in August 2022, Japan pledged to work on countermeasures against Covid-19, promotion of UHC, strengthening of health and medical systems and building better health security. This cooperation is an embodiment of this pledge,” Fukuzawa Hidemoto, the Ambassador of Japan to Uganda said.
With the financial support, Munir Safieldin, Unicef’s representative to Uganda said, will contribute to the improvement of estimation of “zero-dose” children and better identification of where such children are located at the lower community level within the districts.
Safieldin added that collecting accurate data in a timely manner will also improve immunization coverage specifically through better estimates as to the quantity and location of the target population at the community level which will enable better management of routine and supplementary immunization.