Uganda Enacts Law to Improve National Immunization Efforts, Increase Domestic Financing for the National Program
KAMPALA, UGANDA — April 28, 2016 — The Sabin Vaccine Institute (Sabin) applauds the enactment of Uganda’s Immunization Act, 2016, which was recently signed into law by President Yoweri Museveni. The law mandates compulsory immunization of children, women of reproductive age and other target groups and establishes a new national immunization fund.
Notably, this legislation includes a provision to establish an “Immunization Financing and Administration Fund” to purchase vaccines and related supplies, cold chains and funding of immunization outreach activities. The fund will be financed through parliamentary appropriations and donations. The bill was introduced as a private members bill in the Ugandan Parliament in 2012 by Hon. Huda Oleru, a Member of Parliament from the Yumbe district, and was passed as an Act of parliament in December 2015.
“I am pleased that the president has finally signed this bill into law, demonstrating Uganda’s commitment to providing a comprehensive immunization program designed to protect women, children and all those at risk of devastating yet preventable diseases,” said Hon. Oleru. “Moreover, this legislation establishes an immunization fund to encourage greater domestic financing of the national program.”
Sabin’s Sustainable Immunization Financing (SIF) Program has worked in Uganda since 2008 to support increased and reliable immunization financing. The SIF Program, active in 21 countries, collaborates with counterparts in government ministries and parliaments, subnational decision-makers and the private sector to develop innovative financing solutions, such as Uganda’s new immunization fund.
“With the enactment of this law, Uganda joins nine other SIF countries who have taken steps to reduce dependency on external funding and create more predictability and sustainability in its immunization program,” said Mike McQuestion, SIF program director. “Greater political commitment, expressed in part through legislation, support from NGOs and policymakers and resource tracking, is enabling countries like Uganda to take greater ownership of the way they finance a critical public health program. The enactment of this law builds on the momentum of the recent African Ministerial Conference in Immunization, which reaffirmed the region’s commitment to achieving the goals set forth in the Global Vaccine Action Plan (GVAP).”
The GVAP calls on countries to increase financing of their immunization programs and to extend the full benefits of immunization to every man, woman and child by 2020. However, rising costs, due mainly to the addition of new life-saving vaccines such as those against rotavirus, pneumococcal and human papillomavirus diseases pose serious challenges to lower-income countries such as Uganda. While the actual cost of fully immunizing a child in a typical lower-income country is about US$60, 56 lower-income country governments reported spending about US$7 per infant on average in 2014.
The new law requires parents to present immunization cards prior to school entry and any parent or guardian who fails to immunize their child could face a jail sentence of six months or a fine.
“This law seeks to address both demand side and supply side issues for immunization service delivery,” said Diana Kizza, a SIF senior program officer who works on SIF projects in Uganda and Kenya. “By assenting to this law the government has shown the priority it places in immunization, and their commitment to ensuring sustainable financing and provision of vaccines and immunization to the children of Uganda.”
About Sustainable Immunization Financing
The Sabin Vaccine Institute’s Sustainable Immunization Financing (SIF) program enables countries to take long-term financial ownership over their immunization programs. SIF field officers collaborate with public and private counterparts in 21 countries across Africa, Asia and Eurasia who are developing, implementing, or institutionalizing solutions for sustainable immunization financing. SIF countries develop immunization legislation, financing arrangements, and budget advocacy and management practices to sustainably fund routine immunization. SIF facilitates and catalyzes these processes by organizing workshops, peer-to-peer exchanges and informational sessions to bring together national counterparts.
About Sabin Vaccine Institute
Sabin Vaccine Institute is a non-profit, 501(c)(3) organization of scientists, researchers, and advocates dedicated to reducing needless human suffering caused by vaccine preventable and neglected tropical diseases. Sabin works with governments, leading public and private organizations, and academic institutions to provide solutions for some of the world's most pervasive health challenges. Since its founding in 1993 in honor of the oral polio vaccine developer, Dr. Albert B. Sabin, the Institute has been at the forefront of efforts to control, treat and eliminate these diseases by developing new vaccines, advocating use of existing vaccines and promoting increased access to affordable medical treatments. For more information please visit www.sabin.org.