The role of UNITAG in the drafting of the Immunization Bill
Parliament on Thursday, 17th December 2015 passed the Immunisation Bill, 2014 that seeks to reduce morbidity, mortality and disability due to life threatening and preventable infections in children and women of reproductive age.
The Private Member’s Bill was moved by Yumbe District Woman Representative, Hon. Huda Oleru in 2014. This bill was drafted following realisation that that the existing laws on immunisation were inadequate and are scattered in various Acts and subsidiary legislations. The existing legislation on immunisation also contained some provisions that did not reflect the current developments in the area of public health.
The Ugandan NITAG (UNITAG) was one of the key stakeholders that provided input into the first draft of the Immunisation Bill. A four member sub-committee composed of a Public Health Expert, a Paediatrician, a Health Economist and a Health Systems expert, scrutinized the initial Draft Bill that was presented to Parliament during the First reading. They came up with some key recommendations which were endorsed by all the core members. These included creating of an Immunisation Fund to ensure financial sustainability of the immunization program, and a section requiring government to provide the vaccines in a timely manner and ensure that they are safe and efficacious. This would enable the section making immunisation compulsory to succeed, as it was noted that some parents are reluctant to take their children for the exercise, and some claim that the vaccines were inaccessible. The UNITAG presented these recommendations to the Parliamentary Committee on Health during its public hearings, and its recommendations were well received and incorporated into the second draft of the Bill which was subsequently passed by Parliament.
The Bill now awaits a Presidential signature to pass into Law.