By Julius Mugaga Tukacungurwa/Umoja Standard.
Makerere University: While giving a Keynote address on power and science of vaccines at a Public Lecture and his Gowning ceremony organized by Makerere University’s School of Public Health, Dr. Seth Franklin Barkley, the CEO of Gavi stressed that their aim is to provide vaccines to countries in need in order for them to realize zero-dose mission.
It should be noted that on 21st/June/2022 in Geneva of Switzerland, Gavi-the Vaccine Alliance launched Zero-Dose Immunization Programme (ZIP), a new innovative initiative that will provide two consortia of partners with up to a tune of US$ 100 million to identify and reach zero-dose children living in displaced communities, fragile and conflict settings.
Zero-dose children are those that have not received a single shot of a routine vaccine
Statistics show that at least 12.4 million children worldwide are categorised as “zero-dose”, living in missed communities that cannot access many essential services, including health care.
Dr. Seth’s remark comes at a time when Uganda is experiencing Ebola and with Covid-19 still fresh in the minds of the population yet efforts to find a lasting solution are still not sufficient enough.
On Uganda, Dr. Seth revealed that there are many types of innovations the country is working on but the challenge remains with finding out specific problems and how innovations can help on them.
(R-L) Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe-Vice Chancellor of Makerere University gowns and hands souvenir Dr. Seth Franklin Barkley, the CEO of Gavi a Honorary Doctorate of Science of Makerere University. Photo by Julius Mugaga Tukacungurwa.
He stated that Gavi is currently doing something on digital health systems like tracking health workers performance, welfare and vaccines. He added, the challenge now is how to handle money and strengthening accounting systems.
He mentioned that Uganda is currently co-financing with Gavi on vaccine procurement and has fully met its payment obligation in time which will help it solve shortage in terms of need.
“Some countries in Africa have graduated from co-financing but Uganda is still as there is no acute need to worry about but only to make sure that systems are in place and financing from government is reliable to continue paying for the vaccine”. Dr. Seth.
“If a country does not spend money on prevention, it is not doing the right thing. 70% of health care outcomes from Primary Health Care (PHC) and so this should be the priority of most countries”. He stated.
Uganda’s Minister of Health Dr. Jane Ruth Aceng told media that they are on the road to introduce yet two new vaccines, the Hepatitis B back-dose and Malaria Vaccine. She said however Hepatitis B doses will be in adequate supply but for Malaria are expected to be low, Gavi is commits to help out.
She stated that they have been facing challenges of vaccine hesitance as a result of anti-vaxxers but have upscaled up by using Village Health Teams (VHTs) to sensitize the population on the benefits of vaccines to their health and embrace them.
Dr. Aceng mentioned that due to the shock of Covid-19 outbreak, they embarked on constructing cold-rooms for vaccine storage where Gavi contributed over US$16million being the largest in Africa. ‘This gives us a verge to store all amounts of vaccines safely before dispatch’.
“We have also put refrigerators in most Health Centers across the country to keep vaccines safe before they are administered to Ugandans”. She added.
She revealed that Ministry of Health contributes close to US$2millon as co-financing obligation to Gavi for vaccines specifically expensive ones.
However, Dr. Aceng cited that there has been poor accountability from districts across the country for funds especially for health system strengthening and Covid-19. ‘We have inventory from almost all district and this means that the country must repay which is a bad name’.
The Dean Makerere University School of Public Health, Prof. Dr. Rhoda Wanyenze informed that they complement government’s response towards epidemics like Ebola as they have a team helping on data improvement, identification of cases and contact tracing.
She gave an update on school’s new building saying, the first phase is complete with an auditorium of over 450-seater costing them over US$6 million.
“We have started on the main building which will have 4 floors since the students’ population is ever increasing as well to cater for research and service projects”. Prof. Wanyenze revealed.
She however mentioned that they need close to US$8million to complete the second phase as well furnish the laboratory.