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Health workers asked to embrace Covid-19 vaccination to curb infections

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Health workers have been asked to embrace Covid-19 vaccination to protect themselves against Covid-19 infections.

The call was made by health officials during the 19th Dr Matthew Lukwiya Memorial Lecture, held on Thursday at the Guide University Project in Kampala.

Dr Lukyiwa was the former director of St Mary’s Hospital Lacor in Gulu. He succumbed to Ebola in 2000.

To date, 120 health workers have succumbed to Covid-19 since March 2020. The majority of the doctors died during the second wave between May and June 2021.

While doctors have always attributed the high numbers of infections and eventual deaths to the health ministry inability to provide personal protective equipment-PPEs, officials from the health ministry and the World Health Organization-WHO want the health workers to embrace vaccination since it is one of the ways the spread of the virus can be stopped.

Dr Dorothy Ngayilo, a consultant with the WHO on occupational and work health, says the responsibility to avoid Covid-19 infection among health workers should be shared between government and health workers.

“The passing of Dr Mathew Lukwiya and other health workers during this Covid-19 pandemic is a call for the protection of the lives of health workers. However, while national governments have the responsibility to protect their health workers, the health workers need to protect themselves. This is a shared responsibility that needs to be met by both government and the health care workers.

Dr Charles Olaro, the Director of Clinical Services at the health ministry says while the government is committed to protecting the lives of health workers, health workers need to play their part.

“Vaccines are effective and safe. Most of the people who have lost their lives due to COVID-19 were not vaccinated. Health workers please go and get vaccinated. These vaccines were there and they are one of the ways you can protect yourselves,” Olaro said.

Figures from the health ministry as of October 16 show that out of the targeted 150,000 health workers, only 62,448 have been fully vaccinated, while 123,944 have received one jab.

Ministry of health officials says these numbers are still low especially among health workers since many of them are at high risks of being infected with Covid-19.

Dr Mukuzi Muhereza, the Secretary-General of the Uganda Medical Association says while vaccination works, it goes hand in hand with other measures.

“Vaccination does not stop someone from falling sick. It works but the government should endeavor to provide other materials such as PPE to ensure the safety of health workers,” he said.

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