President Museveni has assented to the Immunisation law, which criminalises parents who refuse to have their children vaccinated with a six-month jail term.
It requires every child to possess an immunisation card in order to access education. The new law also creates an Immunisation Fund.
The President’s press secretary, Ms Linda Nabusayi, yesterday confirmed the development in an SMS text to the Daily Monitor.
“His Excellency signed the Immunisation Act into law on March 10,” Ms Nabusayi said.
Parliament passed the Immunisation Bill on December 17, last year. It was moved as a Private Member’s Bill by Yumbe District Woman Representative, Ms Huda Oleru in 2014.
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.
In an interview at the sidelines of the conference, Ms Sarah Opendi, the State minister for Primary Health-care, said that the new law will help achieve the target of having every child getting fully immunised.
“It makes it an offence for a parent not to take a child for immunisation and actually will be imprisoned for six months,” Ms Opendi said.
The conference identified three critical diseases, measles, rubella and neonatal tetanus as diseases which have remained endemic.
“Many countries have fragile health systems that leave immunisation programmes vulnerable to shocks,” indicated a statement released at the end of the conference.
The declaration commits countries to increasing domestic financial investments in order to deliver routine immunisation and roll out new vaccines.
Ms Oleru, who drafted the law, said: “The law creates an immunisation Fund where all funds on immunization are managed.” She added that it has been hard to have government financing with most funds coming from development partners such as Global Vaccine Alliance (GAVI).
According to Oleru, immunisation is the best way to prevent disease in the country since it is administered once.
The new legislation seeks to reduce morbidity, mortality and disability due to life-threatening and preventable infections in children and women of reproductive age. The law is now at the stage of printing and publishing in the Gazette,