Via Xinhua: Nationwide measles immunization starts in Uganda, targets 6.9 million children. Excerpt:
Jane Namutosi, a teacher by profession in the eastern Ugandan district of Mbale, snatched her neighbors' children and took them for measles and polio immunization without their parents' consent.
She told Xinhua at Busiu Health Center on Saturday as the country embarked on a nationwide measles and polio immunization campaign targeting 6.9 million children that she has no regrets.
Ordinarily it would be a noble cause to send your children for immunization but in some areas of Mbale, it is a shunned activity, an activity that some faiths urge their followers not to engage in saying the vaccines are expired and dangerous to their children.
"There are some communities which have certain beliefs like religious sects who don't want to come for immunization (their religion is against this) but what we tell them is that they need to come and sometimes when they don't come we use force from the security around and they have been able to help us manage them," said Agnes Masagwayi, Senior Clinical Officer at Busiu Health Center in Mbale.
Shunning of immunization has led to an increase in the measles and polio cases in this East African country.
Ministry of health statistics show that since November last year, the measles cases have started to increase and are currently over 5,000 cases nationwide.
Apart from death, children who are affected by measles may suffer from life-long disability including brain damage, blindness and deafness.
"Measles is a highly infectious disease and when it is untreated it kills the children but the advantage with it is that when a child is immunized he is prevented from catching this illness. With Polio, it causes lameness, it disables a child," said John Baptist Waniya District Health Officer, Mbale.
This worrying situation, according to the ministry of health, has forced government to embark on a three-day nationwide exercise to immunize over 6.9 million children against measles and polio.