Uganda To Jail Parents Over Missed Vaccinations

Uganda To Jail Parents Over Missed Vaccinations

Parents who fail to vaccinate their children in Uganda will face six month in jail or a fine of 240,000 shillings, according to a new  Immunisation Act that has been signed into law by President Yoweri Museveni.

The law also provides for compulsory immunisation of children, women of reproductive age and other target groups against immunisable diseases. It also requires also compels day care centers, pre-primary and primary schools to demand for production of an immunization card before a child is admitted.

The law will help the government reach its vaccination target, Health Minister Sarah Achieng Opendi told the BBC.

Some parents and members of a religious cult have refused to allow their children vaccinated, she says.

The government's vaccination campaign targets several life-threatening diseases including polio and meningitis.

In 2015, the World Health Organization estimated that 70 children out of every 1,000 will die before they reached the age of five in Uganda.

Ms Opendi told the BBC Focus on Africa radio programme that 3% of Uganda's children had not been immunised.

During sensitisation campaigns, some children had been found hidden in slums by their parents to avoid the exercise, she said.

Some religious leaders have previously been arrested but could not be charged because there was no specific law, Ms Opendi added.

The cult that refused to immunise their children is known as 666 and was growing, she said.

"It started in a few districts in eastern Uganda, but now it has spread and now we are seeing it all over the country," the minister said.

President Museveni signed the act into law on 10 March, but this has only just been made public.

The Immunisation Bill 2014, was passed by Parliament in December 2015. The Immunisation Bill 2014 was tabled as a private members' bill by Yumbe Woman MP, Huda Oleru.

A report released at Ministerial Conference on Immunisation in Africa held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, last month indicated that one in five African children lack access to all needed and basic life-saving vaccines.

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