Gulu To Vaccinate South Sudan Refugees

Gulu district local government has resolved to immunize South Sudan nationals in the district against Hepatitis E and Polio in a bid to prevent any possibilities of an outbreak.

The Gulu district councillors resolved that the district health department should start conducting the exercise as soon as possible at their 14th full council meeting.

The leaders argue that diseases like Polio and Hepatitis B are very rampant in the now volatile South Sudan and if not handled carefully then it might cause disaster in the region.

More than 12,000 people have crossed the border into Uganda since fighting broke out in South Sudan on December 15. The violence has left more than 1000 people dead and another 194,000 displaced.

Gulu district Speaker Douglas Okello says the local government leaders are organizing a meeting with the Sudanese community in the district to talk about vaccination.

In February last year, the UN refugee agency reported that an outbreak of hepatitis E had affected more than 6,000 people in South Sudan refugee camps.

The district leaders have also appealed to the government to intervene through aiding the vaccination process. According to Okello a dose of Hepatitis E vaccine costs 70,000 shillings.

More than 100 medics are expected to be involved in the first day of vaccinations.

Dr Freddie Oyat says that vaccinating the foreigners would be a good step but emphasized the challenges of the resources and capacity to vaccinate all the refugees.

He said the vaccination exercise would be better if conducted on children and not adults, adding that whereas the adults may already have the disease the children especially in Gulu and neighboring districts should be vaccinated to help stop the spread of the disease.

It’s estimated that Gulu district alone is currently hosting over 1000 South Sudanese believed to have entered Uganda through Elegu border post in Amuru district.

When contacted, the Ministry of Health spokesperson Rukia Nakamatte said they are aware of the influx of South Sudanese in Gulu stating that the ministry has a standby surveillance team to handle emergencies.

She however appealed to the district leaders to make a formal communication to the ministry.

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