Vaccinating against COVID-19 in Uganda’s hard to reach highlands
03 June 2021
Kabale District leaders have been sensitizing the community about the about the importance of vaccination against COVID-19.
To access Butanda Health Centre III in Kabale District in western Uganda, one must traverse several Kigezi hills, covering 50kms.
On 27 April 2021, a team from the Ministry of Health and UNICEF visited the health centre to assess the uptake of COVID-19 vaccines. By 11:00 a.m., over 40 elderly men and women were seated at the facility patiently waiting to be vaccinated against COVID-19. The In- Charge Butanda Health Centre Geoffrey Nkurunziza was sensitizing them about the vaccination process and required consent.
All the people who came to be vaccinated had a document to identify them – a national identity card or voter’s card and they were wearing masks, labelled GoU (Government of Uganda).
“We started vaccination two weeks and started off with health workers, the elderly and security people. The turn up is good and we have so far vaccinated about 100 people. By the end of today (27 April 2021), we will have vaccinated 500 people. Most of the people came wearing masks and they washed their hands without being reminded,” Nkurunziza explained.
The Ministry of Health on 10 March 2021 rolled out a countrywide vaccination exercise, following receipt of 864,000 doses of AstraVeneca vaccine from the COVAX facility which comprises of GAVI, WHO, CEPI and UNICEF. Uganda also received a donation of 100,000 doses of AstraVeneca vaccine from the Government of India.
At Butanda, Winnie Ntegyereze mentioned that she is suffering from another illness and inquired whether she can go ahead to be vaccinated.
Everina Ndimutuna notes that her son who lives in Kampala encouraged her to get the vaccine. “I have been provided with adequate information about this vaccine and my son told me it is important that I take it. That is why I am here,” Ndimutuna says with a smile.
An interesting and relevant question was asked by Suruma Laban who wanted to know whether someone vaccinated can continue drinking alcohol. Suruma was reassured that there is no concrete evidence regarding alcohol and COVID-19 vaccination. He was however advised to always ensure that he drinks limited alcohol as too much of its consumption could turn into a health risk.
The Local Council III Chairman of Ndora West Butanda Sub County, Besigye John Kabengye, hailed government for providing its citizens with the much-needed vaccines, noting that people in hard to reach areas line Butanda have benefited.
He explains that even though there has been some on-going misinformation, his electorates have been sensitized by the government and the response to the uptake is good. Kabale District authorities and political leaders have been engaging religious leaders of different faiths and village health teams to educate the community about the importance of vaccination against COVID-19.
Kabale District Sub District In-Charge Edward Arinaitwe Bwengye who lead the mission to visit Butanda Health Centre noted that the health workers are committed to serve the population in all related health services.