Measles in the News

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Measles Hits Mbarara, 10 Dead
©The Monitor
Jonathan Akweteireho, Mbarara
October 20, 2001

Mbarara district has started a crusade against measles, which is now a threat in the district, with over 1,000 cases and ten deaths since the beginning of this year. The district The District Director of Health Services (DDHS), Dr Kaguna Amooti told The Monitor on Thursday that an immunization exercise will be conducted Nov.10-11 for all children between six months to 5 years.

>"We want our children immunized against the deadly disease because measles is so dangerous and it kills." He said the most affected areas are Bukanga, Kashari and Isingiro counties.

He said that the ministry of health has already released one-third of the money expected to finance the exercise in which about 190,000 children will be immunized.

He blamed the increase in measles case on the laxity in routine immunization, lack of facilities, poor mobilization and people's negative beliefs.

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Kabale Starts New Measles Campaign
©The Monitor, Kampala
Muhereza Robert
October 29, 2001

Kabale district has started a mass immunisation against measles for all children below 10 years.

This was revealed by the District Director of Health Services (DDHS) Dr Justus Katungu last week while briefing reporters about developments in the district.

He said the exercise will see about 120,000 children immunised.

The exercise follows a measles outbreak in the sub-counties of Bubaare, Kyanamira and Kamwezi recently, in which an unspecified number of children died.

Katungu said his office is working hard to see the district measles-free in the next three years.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Health has given the district anti-malaria drugs and mosquito sprays in preparation for the approaching rainy season.

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Measles On Rise in Kampala
©New Vision, Kampala
Mariam Nakisekka
October 30, 2001

The medical officer in-charge of Kampala district, Dr. Mishak Mubiru, has said the spread of measles in the district had increased within the past few weeks.

He said the most affected areas were Nakawa, Lubaga and Kawempe divisions.

"Kampala district registered 842 measles patients in September which figure has increased to 1230 to date," Mubiru said.

Mubiru however said that no death had occurred. He said all the patients recovered within two weeks time.

He attributed the problem to parents negligence about immunising their children.


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Mass Measles Vaccination to Kick Off in 10 Districts
©The Monitor, Kampala
Robert Isaur
November 4, 2001

The ministry of Health is to embark on a mass measles vaccination exercise of children below five years of age in ten districts following reports of a measles outbreak in several districts.

The two-day exercise will take place Nov. 10 and 11.

"Measles outbreaks have been reported in nearly all districts, that's why we want to ensure that all children below the age of five are vaccinated regardless of their previous immunization status, and given vitamin A," Dr. Charles Muhumuza, a senior health education officer.

He was addressing journalists at Mosa Courts Apartments along Nile Avenue, Nov. 2.

Muhumuza said measles outbreaks still continue to occur because the disease is highly contagious. Nearly 100 percent measles vaccination is required in a community to prevent an outbreak, he said.

Muhumuza said trained health workers will give the vaccination and that any adverse effects will be monitored. There will be supervisors at the district and sub-county centres

The 10 districts are: Mubende, Kiboga, Mbarara, Kabale, Palisa, Kumi, Soroti, Kaberamaido, Katakwi and Pader.

Muhumuza encouraged community leaders and politicians to educate parents on the need to take their children for measles vaccination.

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Measles Kill 52 Kids in Mbarara
©New Vision, Kampala
Ebenezer Bifubyeka
November 6, 2001

The Mbarara University Teaching Hospital medical superintendent, Dr. Placid Mihayo, said measles has killed 52 children in Mbarara district since January this year.

He said about 257 other children had measles before being admitted at Mbarara Hospital for treatment.

"The most affected age group is between five months and five years old. The increase of measles in Mbarara has stemmed from parents' resistance to immunisation," he said over Mbarara-based Radio West on Thursday evening. Mihayo urged parents to take every child for immunisation on November 10 and 11.

The Mbarara district secretary for social services, Amooti Kaguna, recently said the Ministry of Health had released sh151m to Mbarara to immunise about 190,000 children against measles.

Assistant Resident District Commissioner Sarah Bananuka asked parents to feed sick children on pumpkins, guavas, fish and raw tomatoes that are first washed with water and salt and stop frying food for it spoils the nutrients.

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Over 3,000 Children Died of Measles This Year
©New Vision, Kampala
Charles Wendo
November 8, 2001

Over 3,000 children in Uganda have died of measles since the beginning of this year yet they could have been saved by immunisation, health ministry officials have said.

The assistant commissioner in-charge of immunisation, Dr. Issa Makumbi, said this is the only number recorded in health facilities but the majority die in the villages.

Briefing journalists about the mass measles immunisation due on Saturday and Sunday, Makumbi said 33,000 cases of measles have been reported in health units countrywide.

He said about 10% of them died. "These are reported figures. That is an under-estimation by a figure of four," he said.

Over 891,000 children are expected to receive the measles vaccine and vitamin A in 10 districts.

The exercise, expected to cost sh1.3b, targets those aged between six months and five years whether or not they have been immunised against measles before.

Makumbi said whereas the measles vaccine is given free and the government spends only about sh1,000 per child immunised, it costs as much as sh50,000 to treat one case of measles.

He said between 10% and 30% of the children who contract measles die of the disease and many of the survivors get disabilities such as blindness and deafness.

"The problem is that parents do not know the value of immunisation. This is coupled with rumours that confuse them. In the end there is low demand for this service which is so cost-effective and nearer to them," he said.

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Adults to Be Immunised for Measles
©New Vision, Kampala
November 12, 2001

Health officials have said adults are to begin getting measles immunisation because many grown-ups are suffering from the disease, reports Charles Wendo.

The assistant commissioner for immunisation, Dr. Issa Makumbi, said about 30% of the measles patients in Uganda were above five years.

"We have got adults, even people as old as 50 years with measles," he said.

The World Health Organisation representative, Dr. Oladapo Walker, said the occurrence of measles in adults was a growing trend world-wide.

He revealed this in Mubende where he was monitoring mass measles immunisation yesterday.

Walker said, "In the past, doctors thought that a single immunisation in childhood was enough to protect someone from measles throughout life."

However, he said, it is becoming clearer that people need to be immunised again after some years.

Walker said studies in other parts of the world show that children need to get booster doses of the measles vaccine when they are joining secondary school and again as they join university or other tertiary institutions.

"It is a matter of time before we have measles immunisation for adults. When you have 30% of the measles cases being people who are above five years, then you must have a booster," he said.

Makumbi said the Ministry of Health is currently studying the pattern of measles among adults and the data would be used to design an immunisation programme.

The Mubende District Director of Health Services, Dr. Wilson Mubiru, said the turn-up for the immunisation was much higher than that for polio immunisation.

He said they always found it difficult to convince parents to take their children for polio immunisation.

Makumbi said people do not respond during polio immunisation days because the disease does not kill instantly like measles.

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Good Turnout Reported for Mass Measles Campaign
©UN Integrated Regional Information Networks
November 14, 2001

The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) said on Tuesday that Uganda was stepping up efforts to combat measles by carrying out a mass immunisation campaign for over one million children under five years, including those living in camps for displaced persons near the borders with Tanzania and Rwanda.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), the Ugandan mass immunisation campaign carried out on Sunday and Monday, 10 and 11 November, will prevent over 15,000 childhood deaths over the next three years.

Measles is the most deadly of all vaccine-preventable diseases, accounting for an estimated 777,000 childhood deaths per year worldwide, with over half these deaths occurring in Africa, according to UNICEF. Children affected may also suffer from permanent disability, including brain damage, blindness and deafness.

"We have the know-how to tackle the problem, but the challenge we face in getting every child vaccinated is lack of adequate funds and political leadership," said Carol Bellamy, Executive Director of UNICEF.

The 10-11 Ugandan immunisation campaign was carried out jointly by the Ugandan Ministry of Health, the American Red Cross, UNICEF and the WHO. The Uganda Red Cross Society, through its network of over 1,300 volunteers, was involved in educating local communities on the need for vaccination and in mobilising parents to make their children available for immunisation.

Alice Uwase, acting Secretary-General of the Uganda Red Cross told IRIN on Wednesday that the turn-out for the immunisation exercise had been "very good".

Although it had been "essential" to vaccinate the most vulnerable under-five age group, there was now a need to broaden the age bracket for immunisation of children up to school-going age, she said.

"Often you will find that, if an older child contracts measles at school, he will then pass it on to younger children in the family. It is also much easier to mobilise children in the older age because more of them go to school," she added.

Special efforts had been made during education campaigns to overcome traditional opposition to immunisation in both rural and urban areas. In Mbarara District, southwestern Uganda, the Red Cross Society had been vital to countering rumours that the vaccine could cause illness, rather than prevent it, according to Uwase.

The WHO Representative in Uganda, Dr Oladapo Walker, emphasised the safety of the measles vaccine. "Let me assure you that the vaccines currently used by the Ministry of Health have no severe side-effects," he said.

"The government is committed to improving health, development and growth of all children through cost-effective programmes like immunisation," Ugandan Minster of Health Jim Muhwezi said at the launch of the campaign.

Humanitarian sources told IRIN, however, that the Ugandan Ministry of Health had not been able to carry out large-scale routine immunisation in many areas due to lack of funds and poor administrative capacity, making success of the recent mass campaign all the more important.

UNICEF and WHO are aiming to reduce the number of measles deaths worldwide by 2005 through improved routine immunisation and supplemental campaigns that give children a second opportunity to be immunised.

Mass measles immunisation campaigns are due to be carried out in eight other African countries this year - Mali, Burkina Faso, Togo, Ghana, Cameroon, Tanzania, Benin and Kenya - reaching some 36 million children and preventing an estimated 170,000 deaths.

"It is unacceptable for children to die from measles when we have an effective, safe and inexpensive vaccine that can prevent children from the scourge of this disease," according to UNICEF.

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Measles Kill Two, 18 Admitted in Arua
©New Vision, Kampala
Jamal Abdi
August 7, 2002

AT least two people died and over 18 were reportedly infected following an outbreak of measles in Lowi Parish, Odravu sub-county in Arua district.

The district director of health services, Dr. Isaac Opika, said a mother who was nursing a child in Arua Hospital contracted measles and died in Yumbe Hospital after they were discharged recently.

Atiku said the second victim died in Yumbe hospital on June 29. By Thursday, more cases of measles were reported in Drajini sub-county. About 18 patients were reportedly admitted in Lodonga health centre suffering from measles.

But the district health educator, K.P. Adiga, said the situation was under control. Adiga said the most affected parishes were Luwi, Nyoko and Oluba, all in Odravu.

He said a medical personnel had been dispatched to immunise the communities in the three parishes, adding that the community's response was good.

Adiga said plans were underway to immunise the neighbouring parishes.

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Eight Children Die in Measles Epidemic
©The Monitor, Kampala
Joseph Mazige
December 5, 2002

An outbreak of measles in Mulama village, Magada Sub-county has left eight children dead and 40 others bed-ridden.

Iganga Acting Director of Health Services, Dr. David Muwanguzi blamed the epidemic in the past few weeks on parents who shun the immunisation of children.

Medical sources told The Monitor that most parents have started withdrawing their children from school in fear of the disease.

Magada mid last year lost over 50 people to malaria.

When The Monitor visited the area saw five of the 40 children who were visibly malnourished and in a bad shape. They had reportedly not had any treat save for the herbal medicine.

Muwanguzi said a massive immunisation against measles would be conducted in Magada sub-county and the neighbouring Bulange and Ivukula Sub-counties.

He urged the People to turn up in big numbers for the exercise to have the problem curtailed.

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Measles Hits Kasese
©The Monitor, Kampala
Karugaba Michael
February 12, 2003

Two children have died and many others are admitted to Maliba Health Unit following a measles outbreak in Maliba sub-county, Kasese district.

In a February 10 press release, the district councillor, Saulo Maate, said the most affected villages are Izinga and Nyarukungu in Buhunga parish.

"The situation is pathetic," he said in his release.

He blamed the district health department for not responding quickly despite the fact that they were informed in time.

"The people were expecting a medical team to be dispatched to the area but this has not been done," he said.

Mr Maate appealed to the district director of health services to act quickly before the situation goes out of hand.

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