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Yellow Fever Immunisation Cards Being Sold in Uganda

These cards are acquired majorly by people scheduled to travel out of the country but do not want to pay the higher fee charged by hospitals accredited to administer the vaccine.

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Updated:October 30, 2019, 8:38 AM IST
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Yellow Fever Immunisation Cards Being Sold in Uganda
A woman and her two daughters cross a road after a health worker fumigates a residential area. (Image for representation)

For 60,000 shillings, Uganadan travellers can purchase a yellow fever vaccine card which enables them to present at Entebbe International Airport. Once cleared, they can proceed to their travel destinations. Yellow fever is an acute viral haemorrhagic disease transmitted by infected mosquitoes. The "yellow" in the name refers to jaundice that affects some patients. Symptoms of yellow fever include fever, headache, jaundice, muscle pain, nausea, vomiting and fatigue.

Daily Monitor investigated deeper into the matter in Uganda, only to reveal how one can easily get a Yellow Fever immunisation card without being vaccinated. As per the report, these cards are acquired majorly by people scheduled to travel out of the country but do not want to pay the higher fee charged by hospitals accredited to administer the vaccine. Hospitals charge about Shs 100,000 for the vaccination.

Following the outbreak of yellow fever in Masaka and Rukungiri in 2016, the yellow fever card became a mandatory prerequisite for travellers. The Ministry of Health directed that all travellers exiting or entering Uganda must be vaccinated against the disease to prevent infection or spreading.

The report stated that yellow fever cards are only issued by the Health ministry and given to accredited hospitals to administer the vaccine. Ministry’s logo is engraved on the cards, however, the hospitals need to stamp and engrave them with a seal to validate them.

According to the guidelines of the Health Ministry, the report said that the card is supposed to only be given to someone who has been vaccinated against Yellow Fever. It is this card that a traveller presents to officials at either the airport or immigration offices at borders before they are allowed to enter or travel out of the country.

Nonetheless, the investigation by the news organization showed that while officials at Entebbe airport and border immigration offices have a list of accredited hospitals, they cannot tell whether a traveller, who carries the card, was vaccinated or not because details of all those vaccinated remain at the hospitals. Now, this has led to forgery of the cards.

Jacob Siminyu, the spokesperson of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, which oversees the Directorate of Citizenship and Immigration, told the media house that the Health Ministry has not alerted them on the ongoing scam. “The Ministry of Health needs to put mechanisms which can help our officials ascertain whether a traveller was vaccinated or not. Otherwise, it is very hard for our officials to identify those who were not vaccinated because they come with valid cards at the borders,” Mr Siminyu said.

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