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Measles: Children die as health facilities run out of vaccines

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Ali Adam sits with his face buried in his hands, but one can easily notice the rash on his palms. Adam is suffering from measles. Adam, seated with his three children and wife, lost his oneand-a-half-year-old child to the same disease last week.

“My child had a high fever and cough. I was advised to makeuse of local herbs to treat the cough. However, after one day, we realised thatshe had a skin rash and we rushed her to Kitanyata Health Centre II,” Adamsays.

“We were told that the child had measles, but there was nomedicine at the health facility to treat it. We were given some pain killersand advised to try elsewhere,” he adds.

Unfortunately, the child did not live long enough to get the cure. Adam is a resident of Kitengule village in Pakanyi sub-county, located about 40km from Masindi town. Kitanyata Health Centre II, the health facility nearest to Adam’s home, is located about 8km away.

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 Like Adam, other people have also lost their children due to the disease. “If we do not get vaccines urgently, we are afraid that the disease may claim more lives,” Adam says

He accuses the local leaders of failing to help them access medical services.

 “We are in need, butthey are avoiding us by sending in their political assistants who cannot domuch,” Asiimwe says. Nelson Mungu Jakisa also has an eight-year-old withmeasles.

 “About two weeks ago, my three-year-old child was attacked by measles and I had to go to Kiryandongo Hospital since there was no medicine at Kitanyata Health Centre II. However, the older one fell sick as soon as the young one was discharged,” Jakisa says.

Charles Kaija, the in-charge at Kitanyata Health Centre II, says they do not have the vaccines, but have raised the issue with the district authorities. Kaija says about 15 children aged below five have succumbed to the disease.

“We receive quarterly supplies from the National MedicalStores and when they get finished, we only have to wait until the nextdistribution,” Kaija says.

He says the facility serves over 9,000 people, a number he says is too high for a health centre II. Patrick Baguma, the acting district health officer, said the district is going to do mass immunisation and called on the community to remain calm. Cosmas Byaruhanga, the LC5 chairperson, said the district had approved the sub-division of Pakanyi sub-county in a bid to improve service delivery.

“We shall now have Kiruli and Labongo sub-counties out ofgreater Pakanyi. This is to ensure that services are brought closer to thepeople. Kitanyata Health Centre II will be upgraded to a health centre III andwill, therefore, have more drugs,” Byaruhanga said.