Vaccination Campaigns To Stop Yellow Fever Spread Get Underway In E. Africa

Individuals traveling across East Africa on Friday were ordered to begin receiving mandatory yellow fever vaccines in an effort “to contain an outbreak of the disease in Uganda,” which has sickened an estimated 190 people, resulting in 48 deaths as of Dec. 30, 2010, the Citizen reports (Ubwani, 1/22).

The vaccination plan was announced following a meeting of East African Community (EAC) partner states held to review the “status of yellow fever in the EAC partner states and consider joint cross-border and national mass supplemental immunisation campaigns,” Guardian/IPP Media reports in a piece that looks at how the countries hope to also target an immunization campaign for children living in the region. The piece examines how shortages in yellow fever vaccines may delay a start to the campaign and how the governments are working together to increase the amount of yellow fever vaccines available (Philemon, 1/24).

According to the Citizen, Hadji Mponda, Tanzania’s minister for health and social welfare, “told reporters that all … EAC partner states have now agreed that vaccination against the disease must be compulsory for those crossing national borders” and that vaccine centers were being set up at border posts. Mponda also said he knew of no known reported cases of yellow fever in Tanzania to date, yet he expressed concerns about the quantity of yellow fever vaccines available for distribution.

Also “[s]peaking at the meeting, EAC deputy secretary general Jean Claude Nsengiyumva said the yellow fever outbreak was of major concern to the region,” the newspaper writes. Beth Mugo, Kenya’s minister for Health and Sanitation, also speaking at the meeting, said she too was unsure of the presence of yellow fever in Kenya (Ubwani, 1/22).

According to an East African Community press release, “[o]ther partner states have not reported any case of yellow fever outbreak. The ministers from Rwanda and Burundi informed the meeting that last time yellow fever occurred in their respectively countries was in the 1950’s but mitigating measures have been put in place following the reported cases in Uganda” (1/21).

Guardian/IPP Media examines how shortages in yellow fever vaccines may delay a start to the campaign and how the governments are working together to increase the amount of yellow fever vaccines available (1/24).

Meanwhile, UNICEF “is kicking off a yellow fever vaccination campaign in Ivory Coast despite growing instability and hostility to U.N. staff following a disputed presidential election in November,” VOA News reports. Health workers hope to immunize “more than 800,000 adults and children in north-central Ivory Coast against yellow fever over the next week,” across four rural districts “where 66 cases of the mosquito-borne illness have been recorded since November, including 25 deaths,” according to the news service.

Despite delays to the vaccination campaign due to the “tense political gridlock that has gripped the country since a November 28 presidential poll,” Louis Vigneault-Dubois, UNICEF spokesperson in the Ivory Coast, spoke about the urgent need to carry out the campaign immediately. “Now it has reached a point where it is urgent to vaccinate the people, to stop the epidemic in the four districts that are concerned by the current campaign and to make sure that the disease does not spread further beyond the four districts that are concerned,” said Vigneault-Dubois.

The article details the political climate in the Ivory Coast and notes how security could be an issue for health workers trying to administer yellow fever vaccines (Look, 1/21).

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