21 January 2011
Nairobi — A mandatory yellow fever jab for travellers within East Africa was ordered yesterday to contain an outbreak of the disease in Uganda.
Tanzania’s Health minister Dr Hadji Mponda said efforts are being made to establish vaccination centres at all border posts following a meeting of the region’s health ministers in Arusha. Dr Mponda told reporters the East African Community partner states have agreed to make vaccination against the disease compulsory. Although he said no case of the disease had been reported in Tanzania, he admitted that his ministry could not rule out a possibility of the epidemic crossing into the country. “We have tightened screening of travellers entering the country and I have not been notified of any case within our borders,” he said. Dr Mponda said that the new measures would reinforce yellow fever checks at major airports, where the on-the-spot jabs would also be administered.
Dr Stanley Sonoya, head of the health unit at the EAC secretariat, said the health ministers would consider joint cross-border immmunisation campaigns. According to Ugandan authorities, at least 190 people have been affected by the outbreak with 48 reported killed as at December 30, last year.
Speaking at the meeting, EAC deputy secretary-general Jean Claude Nsengiyumva said yellow fever outbreak was a major concern to the region. Kenya’s Public Health minister Beth Mugo said she was not aware if the disease had spread into her country.