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Health ministry courts cultural institutions to increase COVID-19 vaccine uptake

Dr Diana Atwine, the Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Health asked the leaders to tell their people that the vaccine is not harmful but helpful.

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT |  The Ministry of Health has sought the help of cultural institutions to popularize the COVID-19 vaccine among their respective subjects.

In its first engagement, officials from the health ministry appealed to cultural leaders from the Buganda kingdom to ‘pass on the message’ that the vaccine is the only way the country will have a better chance of controlling COVID-19 fatalities during the second wave. Dr Diana Atwine, the Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Health asked the leaders to tell their people that the vaccine is not harmful but helpful.

The calls followed reports of low vaccination uptake throughout the country. According to data from the health ministry, only 304,030 people have been vaccinated against COVID-19 with the central region of the country having the lowest vaccination rates. On average,35 per cent of the targeted 100,000 within the region have been vaccinated.

This implies that less than half of the available 964,000 vaccines have been used, something which is worrying health officials since the vaccines are expected to expire in the first week of July. Atwiine was speaking at a meeting in Kampala today.

State Minister for Health Robinah Nabbanja says that it is disappointing that the vaccination rates in Buganda are low yet the epicentre of the disease is located within the kingdom’s territories. She urged the clan chiefs and kingdom ministers to help increase vaccine uptake because it is the only way Ugandans can be protected from severe forms of the disease.

Similarly, Dr Twaha Kawaase, the first Deputy Katikirro asked the leaders to take the call urgently and please ensure that their people get the vaccines. He said Baganda should take the example of Kabaka Ronald Muwenda Mutebi who recently got the COVID-19 jab.

This is the first engagement that the health ministry has had with cultural institutions. They plan to have a series of other engagements with the other institutions such as Busoga, Tooro and Teso.

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