Security investigate Nwoya pastor over alleged demobilising followers against polio vaccination

Mr Isaac Okello Wonyima, the Nwoya Acting District Health Officer administers an oral polio vaccine to a baby during the launch of the district polio immunisation on November 4, 2022, at Anaka General Hospital. (Image: Denis Omony)

Security officials in Nwoya District are investigating allegations that Pastor Samuel Otim of a yet to be identified church demobilised some households against allowing their children to be inoculated against poliomyelitis commonly known as polio in the just concluded immunisation exercise.

The Nwoya Deputy Resident District Commissioner (RDC), Mr Emmanuel Okware, says Pastor Otim a resident of Okii village in Anaka sub-county purportedly persuaded four households including his family members and followers not to allow their children to get the two oral drops to guard them against catching the disabling and life-threatening disease.

It is alleged that the pastor told the parents that it is only God with the power to cure but not vaccines.

His anti-polio vaccination campaign, according to the deputy RDC, left six children below the age of five unvaccinated, putting them at risk of contracting the disease.

Audio: Okware on pastor (English)

Several attempts by Kazi-njema News to get a comment from Pastor Otim over the allegations were futile as his known cell phone number was off by publication time.

Meanwhile, Got Apwoyo, Koch Goma and Alero are the three sub-counties that fell short of the target which the Nwoya Assistant District Health Officer in charge of Environmental Health, Mr Sam Okot Obonyo, attributed to failure by some sub-counties to hit the goal of boundaries.

He said in some cases, some vaccinators entered more than 4km radius inside neighbouring sub-counties administering the vaccines there due to lack of clear boundary demarcation.

Mr Obonyo also ascribed the poor coverage by some sub-counties to some families with farms far away in which case parents travel with their children sometimes spending more than a week there away from home.

Notwithstanding this, 84,549 children were vaccinated in the district surpassing the projected 58,592 hitting 144.3 per cent.

Nwoya district saw the number of children vaccinated against polio surpass the projected target in the six-day exercise that ended on November 10, 2022.

Out of Nwoya district’s 11 lower administrative units, Lii sub-county had the most vaccinated children with 16, 636 receiving the oral drops, Lungulu with 9, 128, Anaka town council with 9,114 and Purongo town council with 7,520.

Anaka sub-county had 5,306 children vaccinated, Purongo sub-county with 5,108 and Got Apwoyo with 2,918 among others.

As Anaka sub-county recorded 5,306, this figure surpassed the projected 4,879 children below five years in the area.

Uganda’s ministry of health earlier this month set a target of 8.7 million children aged zero to five years old in a nationwide door-to-door campaign from November 4 to 10, 2022 to be administered the oral polio vaccine.

This was part of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative supported by the World Health Organization (WHO), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Rotary International among other partners.

This campaign was a second phase of the response to the circulating vaccine-derived poliovirus detected in an environmental sample in Lubigi in July 2021.

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