Refugees, cults worsen outbreaks of measles in Uganda

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The increased influx of refugees from Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and South Sudan as well as cults have been blamed for the high incidence of measles in different parts of the country.

According to sources at the Health Ministry, many refugees enter the country with non-immunised children who spread diseases in Ugandan kids. Dr Anthony Mbonye, the Director General Health Services at the ministry last week said there have been measles outbreaks in Kamuli and Kamwenge districts due to the increased number of refugees and a cult known as Triple 6 which bars its followers from immunising children, saying it is against their beliefs.

“A number of measles cases have been confirmed in Kamwenge and Kamuli districts in the sub counties of Butandisi, Nawanago, Bulawoli, Nabwigulu and Kamuli municipality. Most affected children are between 5 and14 years,” he said.

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 would die before they reached the age of five in Uganda.

Early this year, President Yoweri Museveni, signed a law for parents who fail to vaccinate their children to be imprisoned for six months. The law also recommends children to have an immunisation card to allow them to go to school.

The State Minister for Primary Healthcare Sarah Opendi said the law will help government to reach its vaccination target since 3 per cent of Uganda’s children had not been immunised.

Mbonye also announced a Rubella outbreak in Awei sub-county, Aleptong district in Lango sub-region, northern Uganda. Mbonye said Rubella is an infection caused by the Rubella virus and has similar symptoms to measles such as high fever, rash, sore throat and fatigue.

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