Warning: Trying to access array offset on value of type bool in /usr/www/users/urnnet/a/story.php on line 43 Medical Association Ponders Legal Action over Mandatory COVID-19 Jabs for Health Workers :: Uganda Radionetwork
Speaking to journalists on Monday, officials of the Association said that they had received several reports that health workers are being forced into immunization with threats of withholding their pay in the wake of high abstinence by the initial target population.
The Uganda Medical Association (UMA) is considering legal redress over reports that some political leaders are forcing health workers to
take the COVID-19 vaccine.
Speaking to journalists on Monday,
officials of the Association said that they had received several reports that
health workers are being forced into immunization with threats of withholding
their pay in the wake of high abstinence by the initial target population.
The Ministry of Health had targeted to initially vaccinate a
total of 150,000 health workers. But by the end of the week, only a total of about
6,000 health workers had turned up in an exercise that has lasted more than a
Dr Muhereza Mukuzi, the UMA Secretary-General says they are
talking to officials in some of the districts, including Amuru, where the initial
complaint came from but warned that if they fail to heed they are considering
suing them for violating health workers’ rights.
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Due to low uptake by health workers, the Ministry had to go
against their earlier plan and called other target groups for vaccination as
many centres across the country went days without receiving the targeted daily
numbers. As a result, in some
districts, officials issued orders for all health workers to turn up which Dr Richard
Idro says goes against the principle of voluntarily seeking healthcare.
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Even as less than 50 per cent of the targeted 150,000 health workers
have sought their jabs, Idro says that threatening abstaining health workers with pay
cuts and suspension will only heighten the anxiety among the population. He says
the ministry should revise its immunization campaign strategy to respond to
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This however comes just around the same time that President Museveni
warned that abstaining health workers are not only a
danger to themselves but to others. Also, last week, the ministry sent out a
circular to hospitals urging medics to submit general vaccination
statistics which will eventually guide lifting of restrictions such as the
curfew and opening up of bars.
As of Monday, of the 964,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine
that the country received earlier in March, only 232,514 had been used. In addition to health workers, those with
co-morbidities, those aged 50 and above, teachers and security operatives have
been called to receive the jab. Idro says since this is not part of routine immunization, an
individual should willfully consent to receive it.
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However, vaccine hesitancy has not been exclusively faced by
Uganda. According to the World Health Organisation, many countries including in
the US and in the Middle East have had slow progress in inoculations something
they tag largely on misinformation.
The Organization asked countries to have a strong
communication strategy to allay any fears among the populations as they
vaccinate. In Uganda, the medical
association says a lot more to this end needs to be done.