| 18 May 2024, Saturday |

Uganda faces corruption in COVID-19 vaccination, test documents

Sale of COVID-19 vaccination cards, negative test results, and vaccination documents without undergoing testing or vaccination, are being probed by the Authorities in Uganda.

Issues related to managing the COVID-19 crisis in Uganda have been hit by a scandal. COVID-19 vaccination cards and test cards are being sold by some medical workers to people especially those going overseas.

Those mostly buying the documents without undergoing testing or vaccination are the young women aspiring to go and work as housemaids in the Arab countries, according to the authorities.

Jerome Ochan, a criminal investigations department officer, said they got concerned when they heard of many women who left Uganda with documents indicating they were tested and vaccinated against COVID-19 before going to Arab countries and later were found to be positive when tested on arrival.

Ochan noted that in the past three months, they have detected over 100 women who left to work in Saudi Arabia with fake negative test results or vaccination cards.

They worked with other organizations such as the State House Health Monitoring Unit and discovered that some medical workers sold off COVID-19 vaccination and test documents to people who have not yet been tested or vaccinated.

The monitoring unit said it sent some undercover operatives to places suspected to be selling the documents pretending that they wanted to get them without undergoing vaccination.

The head of the unit, Dr. Warren Namara, during an interview with the press, said: ’’We managed to get some of them. Acting on a tip, we sent some of our undercover operatives to some of the places suspected to do so. One of our operatives went to the Joy Medical Center in the outskirts of Kampala city and was asked to pay 50,000 shillings ($14.4) to get the documents.

’’He shamelessly filled the cards and stamped them and gave them to our operative,’’ said Dr. Namara. The health worker was arrested shortly after. By the time he was arrested he had a list of 38 people that he had dealt with on that particular day.

Namara said that apart from selling the documents, the health worker registered the names of people who were not vaccinated but bought the card on the national health management information system’s list of the vaccinated people.

He said they are disappointed by such acts, adding: ’’This is the greatest sabotage in the government’s effort to fight the COVID-19 pandemic. Such acts undermine the accuracy of government data on vaccination.’’

They will leave no stone unturned in getting all those involved in such acts, Namara stressed, saying the investigations are underway. They also got information about all health centers selling vaccination and test cards.

Health Ministry spokesman Emmanuel Ainebyona said in a press interview that some of those involved in the scandal have been arrested and will soon be taken to the court over charges of fraud and other related cases. He noted: ’’We are working with the State House Health Monitoring Unit and the police to nab those selling the cards. Any health center involved in such acts will be dealt with accordingly.’’

Uganda currently has 122,502 confirmed cases of COVID-19 with 3,135 deaths, while only 2 million doses of vaccines have been administered in the country with a population of 43 million, according to the US’ Johns Hopkins University.