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Head Teachers face penalties for enrolling unimmunized pupils

FILE PHOTO: Immunisation

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Head teachers who admit unimmunized children in their schools risk being punished, according to Ronald Gyagenda Ssegawa, the Health Ministry Secretary.

He notes that although the Health Ministry has introduced school registers to track the immunization record of learners, many school heads are taking it casually.

He was speaking during a sensitization meeting of district leaders, technical staff and stakeholders from 10 districts at Mariaflo hotel in Masaka on Wednesday ahead of the mass immunization campaign for measles, rubella and polio in schools.

Ssegawa noted with concern that a big number of pupils in Masaka region are not immunized yet the immunization Act bars schools from enrolling them. The mass immunization campaign that is bankrolled by the World Health Organization at the tune of Shillings 44 billion targets children between nine months and 15 years of age.

Ssegawa asked health workers and leaders who will oversee the mass immunisation program to ensure to also monitor other public health issues in the places where they will conduct the immunization such as ensuring that households own pit latrines, sleep under mosquito nets and schools have clean compounds.

Dr. Eva Kabwongera, the UNICEF Immunization Focal Person, says that the immunization campaign has been rescheduled for September 18th- 22 September and September 25th -29th because they realized that schools will be in the examination season yet they are mostly targeting school going children.

She also the increasing spread of measles and rubella, saying the campaign will supplement and strengthen the routine immunization program. Dr. Kabwongera however raised concern over the high number of children that don’t complete the immunization cycle, saying this is dangerous since the immunisabe diseases have expanded from 6 to 11 with the introduction of rubella.

She disclosed that records only show that 55% children of immunization age complete the doses, saying the number is working in central region with about only 47% completing the cycle. The Kalungu District Education Officer, David Bbale Mukasa, promised to support the program to ensure all children in their areas are immunized.

The Kalangala District LC V Chairperson, Willy Lugolobi raised concern over the limited funds allocated to some areas like Kalangala for the program, saying transport is costly in his area.

In his response, Ronald Gyagenda Ssegawa, the Health Ministry under Secretary asked all leaders involved in the program to follow the set guidelines on expenditure, adding that they nothing much they can do about concerns that some districts were allocated limited resources.

He same asked the concerned parties to table their concerns for future consideration.

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