AFENET, Uganda FETP Support National Poliovirus Vaccine Campaign

The African continent has made significant strides in polio eradication, with the region finally achieving eradication of indigenous wild polio in 2020. The public health response now seeks to address poliovirus variants, and vaccine-derived poliovirus, that continue to pose a threat to populations across the continent. 

This past November, The African Field Epidemiology Network (AFENET), Ugandan Ministry of Health, Ugandan Field Epidemiology Training Program (FETP), and U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) partnered to support a national house-to-house polio vaccine campaign targeting more than 8 million children. 

The campaign came after Uganda declared a polio outbreak in August 2021 that was detected in an environmental sample collected from the Lubigi National Water and Sewerage Corporation site in Kampala. Following the outbreak, and given Uganda’s porous borders, pockets of unimmunized children and weak Acute Flaccid Paralysis (AFP) surveillance, the Ministry of Health (MoH) launched a two-round, house-to-house campaign, securing and administering nearly 10 million doses of the Type 2 Novel Oral Polio Vaccine (nOPV2) in January 2022.

The second round of vaccinations, which took place in early November 2022, served to address gaps in population immunity and interrupt the transmission of poliovirus throughout the country. Joining more than 70,000 immunization teams across Uganda, AFENET and graduates of the Uganda FETP played a critical role in campaign planning and implementation in the country’s southeastern region. Working closely with the Busia District Health Office (DHO), they supported logistics for vaccine distribution and storage, community sensitization, and capacity building for data collection and reporting. Despite challenges and limitations in vaccine storage, the team was able to distribute and mobilize more than 300 vaccine carriers together with sponges and cold boxes, allowing district health teams to conduct simultaneous door-to-door nOPV2 administration and achieve high vaccination coverage across Busia and neighboring districts.