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Cult members in Luwero hamper polio vaccination campaign

A child receives a polio vaccination drop during the nationwide vaccination campaign.

Luwero, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Luwero district health officials are facing a challenge to reach children of cult members that are against any form of immunization.

On Friday, Luwero district embarked on the door-to-door immunization campaign against polio among children aged five years and below. The district targets to immunize 106,000 children within six days and 65 centers have been gazetted to coordinate the campaign.

The health workers kicked off by immunizing children in daycare and nursery schools before they moved door to do together with LCI chairpersons.

However, over 50 children of followers of the Abajiri, a Christian cult in Luwero are likely to miss the exercise over rejection of the campaign by parents. The families are spread at villages of Kakoola, Makokonyigo, Kikandwa, and Nakasejjere village in Kamira sub-county.

Local leaders say the cult believes that the immunization campaign is satanic and a plan to enforce the new world order.

Abdullatif Serugo, the LCI chairman of Makokonyigo village says that during the registration of families whose children are eligible for immunization, 10 families that follow the cult in his area indicated that they won’t participate in the campaign and hence refused to volunteer any information.

He says that in the past, parents have been arrested and jailed for rejecting government programs but this has not changed their beliefs against them.

Ronald Mulumba, the LCI chairman of Nakasejjere village says that whenever cult followers learn about such campaigns, the children are kept away in makeshift houses in the swamps until the exercise ends making it difficult for health workers to access them.

Ponsiano Kabaale, the LC 1 chairperson of Kakoola village says that he is secretly gathering information about the total number of children in the families and they intend to round them for immunization during their prayers on Saturday.

The chairpersons have since asked the district leadership to take up the matter and force the parents to surrender the children for immunization.

Doctor Innocent Nkonwa, the Luwero District Health Officer says that he is aware of the group and they intend to use security personnel to ensure they access children for immunization.

Erastus Kibirango, the LCV chairperson of Luwero is set to make visits to the villages to persuade and sensitize communities to participate in the campaign.

Sheikh Ramadhan Mulindwa, the Chairperson of Inter-Religious Council in Luwero district says that immunization is not against religious faiths and parents should embrace it.

It’s believed that the followers of the cult have also shunned COVID 19 vaccination exercise.

In 2014, more than 300 followers of Abajiri cult in Luwero and Nakasongola districts fled their homes to evade arrest after rejecting the national population and housing census.

In 2010, the same cult followers were arrested and jailed for blocking their children from attending school but their attitude didn’t change.

It’s believed that they’re over 500 followers of Bajiri cult in Luwero and Nakasongola districts.

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