14 September 2017

Uganda: Residents Resist Polio Immunisation

Amolatar — The Amolatar District acting health officer, Mr Alex Ogwal, has said many residents rejected the mass polio immunisation exercise that ended on Monday.

During the evaluation meeting at the district headquarters on Tuesday, Mr Ogwal said the immunisation team encountered many problems, including resistance from residents in Agikdak and Agwingiri sub-counties and Namasale Town Council.

He said In Agikdak Sub-county, the team encountered a religious cult believed to be a splinter group from PAG Mission, whose members do not believe in education and modern health care.

The members of the cult, AGAPE, do not believe in education and modern health care because they say, Jesus never went to school and did not receive treatment from any health facility.

In Atericip village, a cult member and his wife reportedly fled with their two children to the bush.

"When police pursued her to get the children so that they could be immunised, the unidentified woman threw one of them in the bush and fled with the other," the Amolatar District information officer, Mr Joel Okao Tema, said.

Police rescued the child that was thrown into the bush and eventually arrested the mother. Both children were, however, immunised.

"AGAPE members told our health workers that they pray while naked, behind closed doors because people in the area have rejected their way of worship," Mr Okao added.

In Agwingiri Sub-county, Mr Geoffrey Okello, a resident of Samurasa 'B' village, also resisted the immunisation of his children.

The children were, however, forcefully immunised but health workers said the infants have not been immunised against all six killer diseases since birth.

In Kayago B village in Namasale Town Council, an unidentified pastor mobilised his congregation not to participate in the polio campaign.

He was arrested and detained until after the exercise was finished, Mr Okao said.

In 2015, the Ministry of Health, together with World Health Organisation, launched a countrywide house-to-house polio immunisation campaign of children below five years of age with a promise to arrest whoever tries to sabotage the exercise.

According to the Health ministry, the move was aimed at preventing children from the polio virus following cases being reported by the neighbouring countries of South Sudan, Kenya Ethiopia and Somalia.

Uganda

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