By Frank Lukwago, New Vision/NECJOGHA
Mass immunisation campaign against Measles, Rubella and Polio suffered a slow start in some central region districts due to heavy rains that were experienced throughout the day.
In Kalungu District, the exercise kicked off at midday on Wednesday in many schools including St Kizito Primary School in Kyamulibwa Sub County, Christ the King P/S in Saala Sub County and St Ronald Primary School.
According to Dr Daniel Ssentamu, the Kalungu District Health Officer, at least 40 pupils at Christ the King P/S were noticeably absent.
“We have advised the head teacher to send the non-immunised pupils to schools where our team will station on Thursday,” he said.
In Masaka District, the exercise started smoothly in the morning, but came to a halt in the afternoon as a heavy down pour set in.
According to Agnes Nakito, an enrolled nurse at Masaka Municipal Council health centre III, they had immunised at least 140 children by the time it started raining.
“We are not complaining about the turn up, parents have done their part and that is why you are seeing queues even when it has started raining,” she said.
Masaka District Health Officer Dr Stuart Musisi said they target to immunize over 10,000 children in the district.
Goretti Nalugo, a parent said she responded to government’s call although she was getting contradicting messages about the exercise.
“Health centers have been conducting routine immunization, but this national exercise has brought mixed reactions, some people are saying the vaccines are fake, but for me I disregarded such rumours,” she said.
In Mubende District, the chairperson, Francis Kibuuka warned parents who hid their children from immunisation officers on day one that they risk being arrested if they don’t bring the children for immunization.
“Some parents due to their cultural or religious beliefs have a habit of hiding their children whenever there is a mass immunisation exercise, we are going to hunt for them and arrest them for decampaigning a government programme,” he said.
Speaking at the launch of the campaign at Mubende Infants Nursery and Primary School, Dr Yonas Tegegn Woldemariam, the World Health Organisation country representative asked immunisation officers to administer the vaccine well as prescribed and appealed to all parents to embrace the exercise. He said their target is to immunise over 18 million children within the next five days.
The exercise targets children below the age of 15.
In Mpigi District, the council secretary for health, Juliet Jemba noted that the deployed health workers were overwhelmed by the huge numbers of pupils to attend to.
“That huge pupil population may make them not complete the exercise in the planned days,” Jemba said before commending parents for positively responding to the exercise.
Kyotera District Health Officer Dr Edward Muwanga, said day one of the exercise was smooth, despite a few pupils who did not show up at their respective schools.
“We got information that some pupils didn’t show up, but we later realised that these were day-scholars who remained at home due to morning rains that were experienced in some parts of the district,” he said.
In Entebbe Municipality, Margret Nankabirwa, a midwife at Entebbe Referral hospital said the turn up of pupils was good.
“We have had no challenges apart from some pupils who feared injections but we are handling the situation,” she said.
According to Mr Paul Mulumba, the health inspector in Division B Entebbe, said this year’s turn up is highest compared to previous year’s. At Kiwafu Primary School, which has a population of about 800 pupils, at least 700 were immunised on Wednesday.
“Those who have dodged the exercise on day one we shall find them in their communities in the subsequent days,” he said.
In Kalangala District, many parents on Buggala, the main island shunned the exercise over unknown reasons.
David Tusubira, the head teacher at Kibanga Primary School said parents were informed about the exercise, but many did not send their children to school.
“I have tried to contact some of them [parents] and their response is that they are sceptical about the whole exercise, connecting it to the previous mass immunisation where some pupils experienced problems,” he said.
In other schools like Bukasa, Lulamba, Kinyamira, Kachanga and Busanga which are scattered on different islands, the low turnout was attributed to the morning down pour as well as delay to dispatch vaccines and immunisation kits.
Kalangala District Health Officer, Dr Hilary Bitakaramire promised to do more sensitisation and ensure that all children in the 63 habitable islands of Kalangala get immunised in the remaining days.
In Kamuli District, the deputy health officer, Moses Lyagoba said the challenge of cold chain redistribution coupled with bad roads and afternoon rains slowed down the exercise.
“We are going to beef up the manpower and have asked for stronger vehicles from our Woman MP Rebecca Kadaga,” he said.
In Kasere District, a parent stormed the premises of Kasese primary school, arguing that he does not want his daughter to be subjected to immunization.
“At first we experienced objection with one of the parent who stormed the school premises trying to obstruct the process, but was sensitised and accepted his daughter to undergo the immunisation,” Margaret Kunahimberi, a teacher at the school, said.
In Tororo District, one person was arrested for obstructing the immunization exercise.
The deputy resident district commissioner, Were Yahaya said the arrested, Geofrey Awala, 45, a resident of Tengor-Lulikoyo village in Osukuru sub County, Tororo District was arrested after he tried to stop the team from accessing his home.
Yahaya also disclosed that they have summoned, Brian Oyuka, the head teacher of Little George Kindergarten in Tororo municipality for obstructing the health team from vaccinating the children of Indians and Somalis even after their parents consented.
“We have summoned him to tell us why he was obstructing the health team from vaccinating children of Indians and Somalis even after their parents had consented,” he said.