H.E Kate Aireys (extreme Right) the British High Commissioner to Uganda cutting a ribbon to launch phase two of the Hygiene Behavioral Change Coalition Program (HBCCP 2)./ Photos by Lawrence Mulondo
Lawrence Mulondo
Journalist @New Vision

The Ministry of Health has noted that they are realizing a low uptake of vaccines in the country currently compared to when the pandemic risk was high.

Dr. Richard Kabanda, the Commissioner Health Promotions Ministry of Health attributed the current low uptake of vaccines to the low risk perception of the virus within the public.

Kabanda made the remarks during the launch of phase two of the Hygiene Behavioral Change Coalition Program (HBCCP 2) a project aimed at mitigating the long-term impacts of Covid-19 on the country’s public health through hygiene behavior change.

L-R) H.E Kate Aireys the British High Commissioner to Uganda interacting with Dr. Richard Kabanda the Commissioner Health Promotions Ministry of Health. This was during the launch of phase two of the Hygiene Behavioral Change Coalition Program (HBCCP 2) a project aimed at mitigating the long-term impacts of Covid-19

L-R) H.E Kate Aireys the British High Commissioner to Uganda interacting with Dr. Richard Kabanda the Commissioner Health Promotions Ministry of Health. This was during the launch of phase two of the Hygiene Behavioral Change Coalition Program (HBCCP 2) a project aimed at mitigating the long-term impacts of Covid-19

“People have a low-risk perception of the virus because they no longer see those that get severely ill or those that die. This brings relaxation for many to take vaccines,” he said.

“Since the risk perception of the virus is low, people cannot get Covid and others think even when they get the virus they cannot get so ill and die.”

Kabanda said even when they had just launched covid-19 vaccination in 2021 March; the uptake was low since the perception of the pandemic risk was still low.

He said currently when you test 100 people you get only two with a variety which brings in relaxation within the vaccination and keeping of safety measures.

The commissioner noted that there are still people who are testing positive, urging all those that are not vaccinated to get their doses but also enforce Standard Operating Procedures where necessary.

“Currently the only international public intervention that we have globally is vaccination against the covid-19 virus,” Kabanda said

He said the vaccination centres are open with health workers available to give services however, there are few people coming in to get their doses.

UK donates funds to awaken fight

The United Kingdom under the Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) has donated approximately sh3.1b (700,000 pound) to help boost interventions in the fight against the spread of Covid-19 in Uganda.

The money is to facilitate the implementation of phase two of the Hygiene Behavioral Change Coalition Program (HBCCP 2) a project aimed at mitigating the long-term impacts of Covid-19 on the country’s public health through hygiene behavior change.

The fund is part of the broad 3.7m pounds that were sent to implement that same program in three east African countries including Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania.

While launching the program in Kawempe division, Kampala district, H.E Kate Aireys the British High Commissioner to Uganda said the lessons they have learnt from Covid-19 apply to many other diseases that are facing mostly in urban communities in Uganda.

She said they would continue to learn from what people in communities say to enable implement programs that affect persons using funds donated by the UK people.

“We need to work together to increase not only the covid-19 vaccine uptake but all other vaccine programs in the country for health populations,” she said.

She said that they need to ensure that people understand that good practices like washing hands are not only for preventing covid-19 but is to kill 70% of all bacterial and viral infections.

Kate assured Ugandans that the vaccines are safe and therefore called on all those that have not received their vaccines to get them.

Globally the HBCCP has reached 1.2b people in 37 countries and in Uganda under phase 1 reached 4.7m people in Kyotera and Kampala with hygiene messages.

 H.E Kate Aireys the British High Commissioner to Uganda looking at briquettes at an exhibition during the launch of phase two of the Hygiene Behavioral Change Coalition Program (HBCCP 2) a project aimed at mitigating the long-term impacts of Covid-19

H.E Kate Aireys the British High Commissioner to Uganda looking at briquettes at an exhibition during the launch of phase two of the Hygiene Behavioral Change Coalition Program (HBCCP 2) a project aimed at mitigating the long-term impacts of Covid-19

Project implementation

In Uganda, just like phase one of the project, phase two is to also be implemented by AMREF Health Africa in Uganda.

Dr. Patrick Kagurusi the Amref Health Africa Uganda country representative said phase of the project, which is an intense behavior change communication program, will run from September this year to April 2023.

Kagurusi said the program is to be implemented in Kampala and Wakiso districts since the two are still high transmission areas with a high number of positive cases.

“The program is going to be communication led both on mainstream and social media, we are also going to engage Village Health Teams (VHTs) to move good hygiene practice messages door to door to ensure people can protect themselves from illnesses,” Kagurusi explained.

He said there will be a vaccination drive going to communities to have people get their vaccines in their localities.

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