AUGUST 6, 2010: Gulu to Start Forced Immunisations

Gulu to Start Forced Immunisations
SOURCE: New Vision
By Patrick Jaramogi
Kampala — GULU district administration will resort to forcing women to immunize their children as a means of preventing child deaths from the killer diseases.
The acting district chairman Kitara Makmot said the health of the children who are tomorrow's future leaders and generation will not be left to the parents alone.
The killer diseases among children include; polio, Tetanus, Diphtheria, Whooping cough, measles and Tuberculosis. New unborn babies are also currently safe guarded from contracting HIV/AIDS from mother by the use of Nevirapine. A single dose of nevirapine given to both mother and child reduced the rate of HIV transmission by almost 50% compared with a very short course of zidovudine (AZT) prophylaxis.

"The point where we have reached needs government intervention. It is sad to see children still dying due to preventable diseases like malaria and malnutrition. We shall as a district now force parents to immunize their children," said Makmot.

He was addressing people during the launch of the World Vision Uganda Child Health campaign at Kaunda grounds in Gulu at the weekend. The campaign that climaxes in Kampala on August 12 has seen the Child Health Van traverse Bundibugyo, Rakai, Mpigi, Kibaale, Hoima, West Nile, Soroti and Butalejja.

The five year campaign seeks to reduce preventable diseases like malaria and malnutrition by sensitizing the community on preventative measurers.

Makmot said parents must exhibit a high degree of responsibility to ensure proper health of their children. "It is the responsibility of parents to ensure that their children and immunized, but we shall now be hard and force them.

He acknowledged the fact that delayed delivery of drugs compounds the health problem.

"It is true Gulu district also faces the challenges of inadequate drugs. But apart from the drugs delaying to be delivered, the few that are delivered are stolen by unscrupulous people," he said.

Gulu social services chairman Charles Okwakalwak said the stealing of drugs in the district was rampant.

"The fight against this vice is proving difficult because the same public that complains due to shortage of drugs also complain when the "drug thieves" are arrested.

"When we arrest those who steal drugs, their relatives compromise CID, and judges handling the case leaving us with little success," he said.

He wondered why the justice system would be lenient to people to steal drugs intended to benefit the community.

Okwakalwak also urged the community to exhibit a good degree of hygiene. "Why for heavens sake should you eat without washing your hands. I don't care whether you wash your hands after eating but please wash your hands with soap before handling of eating food," he pleaded.

Gulu district health officer Dr. Paul Onek urged the locals to take the health of their children more seriously. "We don't take the health of our children very seriously. When a child dies, its normal, but when a politician dies its big news," he said.

He reiterated the importance of having a clean house, latrine, kitchen and bathroom and a foundation for keeping diseases away.

"Now that World Vision has launched this campaign, lets support it to reduce malaria deaths in Gulu," he said.

Over 70,000 children are infected with malaria in Gulu annually 85 percent under the age of five.