More than 50,000 people will be protected against Yellow Fever virus in an ongoing 10-day vaccination campaign organised by the National Medical Stores (NMS) at Mandela National Stadium, Namboole.
Since Tuesday, thousands of Ugandans have been lining up at Namboole to get jabs of the vaccine free of charge as opposed to paying between Shs80,000 and Shs120,000 at accredited health facilities.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Yellow Fever virus is found in tropical and subtropical areas of South America and Africa. The virus is transmitted to people by the bite of an infected mosquito. Yellow Fever results in thousands of deaths with nearly 90 per cent of these occurring in Africa.
In a country where many people strive to earn the basics of life, and resort to seeking jobs abroad, the current fees at accredited centres are not only prohibitive but they also breed suicidal deeds, especially among people who are refused to travel because they lack the Yellow Fever booklet.
According to the Ministry of Health and Civil Aviation Authority, all passengers travelling in and out of Entebbe airport are supposed to present proof of immunisation against the disease in form of the ‘yellow’ certificate.
NMS spokesperson Dan Kimosho on Wednesday told Daily Monitor that the vaccination campaign had already benefited more than 5,000 people. The vaccination drive which is part of the NMS corporate social responsibility activities meant to promote health and prevention, is expected to end on December 8.
In September, a similar campaign held at Kololo Independence Grounds in Kampala saw more than 25,000 people benefit from free Yellow Fever vaccination services during the Taxpayer Appreciation Week organised by Uganda Revenue Authority.
The two events are a good move in the right direction to help Ugandans, especially those with meagre resources, to access the vaccine. It is unfortunate that such free services go to areas where access to them is not as difficult as it is in the countryside.
As a government entity mandated to procure, store and distribute medicines to the people who need them, NMS must do their best to take the vaccination exercise to the communities across the entire country.
We also think government must relax the requirement of possession of the National ID for one to get vaccinated against the disease because many Ugandans, hitherto, do not own these IDs. Such a requirement locks out many people.