Kampala, Uganda | URN | Medical teaching institutions in the country are set to conduct vaccination for all students. This follows a decision by President Yoweri Museveni to reopen medical schools after a 42-day nationwide lockdown that ended last month.
The decision was based on the need to maintain a constant flow of medical personnel to health facilities that heavily rely on intern doctors and nurses, especially at a time when the country is struggling to contain the COVID-19 pandemic.
As the learners reported to schools across the country today, administrators at the institutions intimated that due to lack of proper preparations, learners will have to be admitted all through the weekend, before the vaccination, and wait for the launch of the exercise next week.
Fatumah Nakigudde, a tutor at Kibuli Hospital Training Schools says that as the schools wait for vaccination to take place next week, they will carry out a physical assessment of all students as they report to avoid the spread of the disease. In addition to physical examinations, the school says they will rely on other protective measures.
Denis Bwanika, the public spokesperson at Mengo Hospital says they are going to put more emphasis on observing the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) as they wait for a way forward regarding vaccination.
Eva Nampiima, the principal of Mulago School of Nursing and Midwifery explains that the school has embarked on screening the students in the categories of those vaccinated, non-vaccinated and those who received a single jab so far for better arrangements with the hospital next week to vaccinate all.
The Programme Manager for the Uganda National Expanded Programme on Immunization, Dr Alfred Driwale says the delays in vaccinating learners is being caused by the process through which the schools can access vaccines.
According to Driwale, the health ministry does not have a special arrangement to deal with students in health training institutions. He however says they have advised leaders in these institutions to get in touch with local government authorities in their areas to organise for vaccination of the students at all medical institutions.
Driwale adds that training institutions that are located at designated vaccination centres should make internal arrangements to vaccinate the learners since they are considered health workers.
Mukono District Health Officer Steven Mulindwa says that they have received applications for special vaccination arrangements from some medical institutions. He says such institutions will be given vaccines and those that did not formally apply should encourage the students to go to the health centres and get vaccinated.
Meanwhile, the schools also want the government to also provide Personal Protective Equipment like masks, disposal aprons for students that will be carrying out clinical trials.
Mary Achuma, the principal of the Kaboong School of Nursing and Midwifery who is also the Acting President for the Uganda Health Training Institutions Principal’s Association says that the cost of PPE is usually met by the students and training hospitals. However, due to global stockouts, the price of these commodities has increased, leaving students stranded.
As principals ask the government to provide PPE, hospital administrators for the teaching hospitals are also asking schools and students to come with their own PPE. Magdalene Kokol, the Senior Nursing Principal Officer at Mbale Regional Referral Hospital says the students need to contribute PPE to supplement what is provided by the National Medical Stores (NMS).