There is a concerted effort to combat immunizable diseases and improve vaccination coverage in the country. This initiative is crucial in safeguarding public health, particularly for children. However, one challenge that health authorities face is the resistance to immunization programs fueled by traditional and religious beliefs. In an effort to address this issue, Kumi district health educator John Kamir Adae delivered a cautionary message during the training of community immunization champions in Katakwi district.
Immunization plays a pivotal role in preventing a range of diseases, including tuberculosis, diphtheria, whooping cough, tetanus, polio, hepatitis B, Haemophilus influenza, pneumonia, measles, yellow fever, and rotavirus. Despite the significant benefits it offers, there remains a need to counteract misconceptions and beliefs that hinder the acceptance of immunization programs. Uganda’s health ministry is actively mobilizing the public to embrace these immunization schedules and protect their communities.
One approach to overcome resistance is through the training of community immunization champions. These individuals are tasked with the vital role of mobilizing and educating the public about the importance of immunization. John Kamir Adae emphasized that it is misguided for people to reject immunization without scientific evidence, relying solely on outdated beliefs. This training, supported by the health ministry and the Infectious Disease Institute, aims to create greater awareness within the community, as recent surveys have shown a low turnout for immunization activities.
Government and various health organizations are consistently engaged in awareness campaigns, vaccination drives, and educational initiatives to promote immunization and enhance vaccination coverage nationwide. These efforts are crucial to safeguarding public health, especially for children who are more vulnerable to vaccine-preventable diseases.
Irene Alupo, the lead Village Health Team member in Kumi district, acknowledges that there are still parents who have not embraced the importance of completing their children’s immunization cycle. According to UNICEF guidelines, parents are advised to ensure their children receive immunizations five times before their first birthday, including BCG, DPT, OPV/IPV, PCV, Rota, Pneumonia, and Measles. Adolescent girls should also receive the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) vaccine to protect against cervical cancer at the age of 10. Additionally, pregnant women and women of childbearing age are encouraged to get immunized against tetanus.