Uganda plans to spend 56 Billion Shillings to procure the initial 18 million COVID-19 vaccine doses that are expected in the country this month.
According to a statement released by the cabinet, the country has procured 18 million doses of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine. On average, the government will be spending 62,500 approximately on each Ugandan.
People who are at high risk of getting infected with the disease like front-line health workers, health workers working on COVID-19 treatment wards and surveillance officers will be among the first persons to receive the vaccine. To be able to vaccinate all Ugandans at the current cost, the country will have to spend at least 2 Trillion Shillings. The health ministry had initially budgeted to spend 1.4 Trillion Shillings for the entire exercise.
Dr Diana Atwine, the Permanent Secretary from the Health Ministry says that the budget that was first released is a working budget and will either increase or reduce.
“As we have said before, this amount included procuring the vaccine and other logistical things. We had warned that it can increase or decrease at any time and we would adjust our planning,” she said.
Atwine declined to comment on whether the health ministry would be seeking for more funding since its previous budget does is inadequate to procure just vaccines.
The vaccines will be delivered in the country in two phases. Around 40 percent of the allocated vaccines approximately 3 million doses are expected to arrive first.
Dr Alfred Driwale, the programme manager of the Uganda National Expanded Programme on Immunization says the figures they have right now are an estimate of what the country should expect.
“We have been given allocations but these can change, “he said.
Globally, countries that have rolled out vaccination campaign against the disease are facing shortages of vaccines and some countries have been forced to extend the time duration between vaccines to as many as 80 days.
According to Dr Driwale, Ugandans who get the vaccine will receive the two doses 28 days apart as recommended by the manufacturers. When asked whether the country would have enough vaccines to carry the vaccination when needed, Dr Driwale said they are first targeting high-risk groups to ensure that all persons get the required dose. He says they will not be very ambitious with the vaccine.
“We are going to start slowly. We are getting 18 million doses which means only nine million people will be vaccinated first. We shall not vaccinate 10 million with the hope that we shall get other vaccines. There is a global shortage and African countries like Uganda are still on waiting lists as more developed countries get vaccines,” he explained.
A source from the health ministry who preferred to remain anonymous last month told URN that the health ministry had placed orders with other vaccine manufacturing companies like Pfizer and Sinopharm.