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Uganda To Lose Billions As 7.5 Million COVID Jabs Set To Expire

Minister Aceng being vaccinated

The Minister of Health, Dr Ruth Aceng has warned that if the uptake of the Covid-19 vaccines doesn’t increase in Uganda, at least 7, 567,200 doses of the jab will expire by February 2024.

Minister Aceng informed Parliament that the vaccine uptake in Uganda still stands at 59% of the population aged 18 and above that were supposed to be vaccinated, while among the children aged 12 to 17, only 6 percent has received two jabs.

“This coverage is below our target of 28.5m eligible Ugandans (22m adults and 6.5m children) who are up to date with their vaccination against Covid-19. Despite these successes in vaccination, the update for Covid-19 vaccination has stagnated in the past 18 months. The Ministry of Health is recording successive expiry of vaccines. By February 2024, 7,567,200 vaccine doses will have expired” remarked Aceng.

It should be noted that Uganda allocated 560 billion shillings (160 million U.S. dollars) in the 2021/2022 financial year for the purchase of COVID vaccines.

In reaction to the Minister’s statement, Rose Obigah (DWR Terego) asked the Ministry of Health to explain why the Ministry has normalised the vice of medicines expiring within Government stores where the Covid jabs haven’t been spared remarking, “It brings chill to my blood when I hear vaccines getting spoilt. It has become the normal thing to hear drugs get expired. Can we really understand how we can make good use of our drugs before they expire?”

The statement from Ministry of Health on status of Covid-19 was prompted by Leader of Opposition, Mathias Mpuuga who tasked Government to explain why Covid tests are only conducted when President Museveni is set to interface with guests and at the time, Margaret Muganga, State Minister for Primary Health Care had said that Uganda was recording 50 to 60 cases every week hence the need to protect the President because he is the only one Uganda has.

Robert Migadde (Buvuma County) argued that initially, the Ministry of Health used to give daily updates on Covid-19 cases in Uganda and during this exercise, Government would even reveal the names of the various Covid-19 variants Uganda was grappling with, a trend he said had recently spotted, thus prompting him to ask if the Covid currently in Uganda is only presidential, which is why only guests meeting the President are tested.

“It is a fact we must accept that nowadays the way Covid-19 testing is being done, it is more political. Testing is only done when we are going to meet the President and even if there is a national function that is going to bring people from many parts of the country and provided the President isn’t going to be there, there is no testing. I really want to understand, is the Covid-19 we have presidential?” Migadde.

Minister Aceng also added that although the World Health Organisation (WHO) declared that Covid-19 is no longer a global threat, there is still need for Uganda to continue putting in place measures to deal with the pandemic in case there is a new upsurge in infections.

She said, “The worst of Covid-19 seems to be over, but the medium and long-term effects of the previously infected individuals remain a challenge which the Ministry of Health is doing to address. Whereas the possibility of flares remains, as a country we are more prepared than we were in March 2020. We hope to sustain all the health systems gains attained in the past three years of the pandemic to strengthen access to quality care of the population.”

However, her statement was rejected by Nathan Byanyima (Bukanga North) who accused the Ministry of Health of using Covid-19 as a vehicle to siphon taxpayers’ money by turning the Ministry into bottomless pit, saying it is about time Government focused on other health threats like cancer that are claiming lives of Ugandans.

“COVID-19 is no longer a threat. The Ministry of Health has become a bottomless pit. People are misusing the money, because who can be vaccinated now? The issue at stake is cancer, people are dying of cancer. Don’t come here with a flowery statement and you think some of us will accept it, no. enough is enough. What is killing people isn’t Covid-19, what people contributed you ate it. Everything disappeared,” remarked Byanyima.

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