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Measles Outbreak Confirmed in Lamwo

At least eight cases of measles have been confirmed in Lamwo district.  Leaders say between September 11th-21, eleven samples were taken from new refugees from South Sudan in Palabek settlement, and taken to the Uganda Virus Research Institute-UVRI, and on Tuesday, eight of the samples were found positive. 

Geoffrey Osborn Oceng, the RDC of Lamwo District, said the tests were necessitated by the outbreak of measles in neighboring South Sudan. Initial cases of measles were reported in South Sudan in mid-July 2022, which lead to the tests and confirmation of cases in Juba County.   Oceng added that since the district receives between 150-200 refugees daily from South Sudan, the likelihood of having a case was very high.

Walter Ocira, the Expanded Program on Immunization-EPI Focal Person for Lamwo district, said following the confirmation of the eight cases, they moved into the community two days ago and identified 29 other people that are presenting with signs and symptoms of measles and are being monitored.

Ocira has however downplayed the severity of the outbreak, saying only five are being managed at Paluda Health Center III, while others are at home.

Ocira suggested that the needed resources should be qualified, a vaccination campaign done and regular task force meetings conducted to manage the outbreak.  

Dr. George Opong, the WHO Field Coordinator in Lamwo, said there is a need for all partners in the health sector to work jointly to contain the epidemic.   “This may not need just the health team, but a joined or multisector approach,” he said. 

Sisto Ocen Oyet, the LCV of Lamwo District says that the district is specifically alarmed because of the many porous borders that the refugees use to enter the district. 

There are at least three border points in Lamwo district that are used by South Sudanese; Waligo in Nimur sub-County, Aweno Olwi in Lukung East Sub County, and some areas in Agoro Sub-county. 

Oyet wants the government to close the porous borders, or put in some mechanism to ensure that there is no uncontrolled entry into the district through the porous border points.  

Measles is a highly contagious viral disease that is among the leading causes of death among children the world over. 

In May, the World Health Organization reported that there was an increase in measles cases by 79 percent in the first two months of 2022, compared to the same time in 2021, adding that it’s a worrying trend of an increased risk for the spread of the viral disease and others that can be prevented by vaccination. 

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