United Kingdom

Uganda Network

Immunisation and Health


"Children have the right to enough food, clean water and health care"

immunise badge



Keeping healthy is an important part of our programme for Beaver Scouts in this country and this chapter of the book will give you lots of ideas for activities you can undertake with your Beaver Scout Colony.

In Uganda, keeping healthy means much more than just learning to clean your teeth properly or washing effectively, important though these two activities may be! Ugandan Scouts take part in activities that actually save lives.

In many parts of Uganda a very special project is going on which is being run by young Scouts and Cub Scouts. In this country our Cub Scouts and Scouts earn badges for collecting, swimming, and computing. In Uganda the Scouts can earn a badge for saving the lives of many of the children in his or her village. The badge is called the immunisation badge and it works in a very simple way.

Every year five million children die in the world and five million are disabled from diseases which could be prevented by immunisation against the germs which cause them. In particular, new born babies are at risk. The six killer diseases that are preventable are measles, whooping cough, polio, tetanus, diphtheria and tuberculosis.

The Scouts go round to the homes of young mothers in their villages and persuade them to get their children immunised against the diseases at local child health clinics. The Scouts accompany the mothers and their babies to the clinics, help to weigh the children, chat with the mums and return to the village with them after the nurses have given the babies their injections. They then repeat all this a month later as the children need to receive vaccinations two or three times for the immunisation to be effective.

The clinics themselves are mobile ones and are often set up in village centres or primary schools. The nurses and health workers often travel many miles to the centres on bicycles with the vaccines kept safely chilled in a coolbox slung round their shoulders. The vaccines have to be kept cold because they become useless at room temperature, let alone the very hot daytime temperatures that one gets in East Africa. Keeping the vaccine cold all theway on its trip from Europe or America to the very remotest spot in Uganda is a complicated business and the Scouts have helped, too, to develop the 'cold chain' that allows this to happen.

The mothers often need a great deal of reassurance from the Scouts that their children will be safe. There have been very scary stories about unclean needles being used and children contracting dangerous diseases instead of being immunised against them. The Scouts help to explain that all the needles used are sterilised before use and that the whole scheme is perfectly safe.

Scouts who take part in this project, and have shown that they have understood what immunisation is all about, can earn their immunisation badge. It is not a cloth badge as these are too expensive for the Uganda Scouts

Association to produce. Instead the badge is of the metal pin type, but it is worn by everyone who earns it with an immense amount of pride.

Over three million lives are now being saved by immunisation programmes, but they are not nation-wide. Funding just doesn't exist to cover the whole country. Much of the money raised by the Unite project in 1994 will go towards helping to fund the immunisation project across the whole of Uganda.

Activity - Adopt a Baby

When you have explained to the Beaver Scouts about the importance of immunisation, they may like to make a special immunisation card for a younger brother or sister, or perhaps for a new born baby in the community. If you don't feel confident about talking to the Beaver Scouts yourself, invite a local midwife or health visitor to visit the Colony. The boys and girls may remember having 'jabs' themselves. They are now old enough to begin to understand why they had to have them.

Activity - Make a Card

The special Birthday immunisation Card will need to include an attractive and appropriate picture on the front. It will then need the details for immunisation inside it. If the Beaver Scouts were to 'adopt' a young mum in the same way as the Uganda Scouts do, they could keep the card and colour in the portions of it when each immunisation was undertaken. They could also follow the way in which a young baby grows in its first few months of life. Many Beaver Scouts may never have the opportunity to meet babies as they may be the baby of their family themselves! This could give them a very exciting opportunity to find out about the world around them. Invite a mum and her new born baby to visit the Colony for a short visit. This could be a younger brother or sister of one of the Beaver Scouts. Perhaps they could return every three to six months and the weight and length of the baby could be recorded.
immunise badge

This is the United Kingdon timetable for immunisation

  2 months Diphtheria, whooping cough, tetanus, (DPT injection),polio drops (given in a sugar lump), Hib.
  3 months 2nd DPT injection, 2nd polio drops, Hib.
  4 months 3rd DPT injection, 3rd polio drops, Hib.
  12-18 months Injection against measles,mumps, rubella (MMR).
 3-5 years booster for tetanus, diphtheria polio drops.
  14 years Tuberculosis.

Game - Germ Free

Choose three of the Beaver Scouts to be germs and identify them with different coloured bands or T-shirts. For instance:

  • Beaver Scout 1: Measles - Red band
  • Beaver Scout 2: Whooping cough - Yellow band
  • Beaver Scout 3: Polio - Blue band

The other Beaver Scouts have been 'immunised' against two of the three diseases and these can be identified by coloured counters or sticky dots that they keep secretly in their hands! The germs have to chase the Beaver Scouts. When a germ catches a Beaver Scout, the latter has to show what is in their hand. If they don't have the right colour then they are out or lose a life.

Game Invading the Body!

Germs make us become ill by invading our bodies. Sometimes, if only a few germs get in then our natural defence system can destroy them, but if there are too many then we catch a disease.

If you have eighteen Beaver Scouts then twelve can join hands forming a circle this represents the body. The other six Beaver Scouts have a number of footballs which they have to try to get inside the circle through the Beaver Scouts' legs. When they manage to get four balls inside the circle, the body has caught the disease and another group can be the germs. Obviously you should adapt this game as much as you like to suit your Colony. If you have extraordinarily well behaved and careful boys and girls, (who has?) you can dispense with the balls and just allow the Beaver Scouts to try to invade the circle themselves.


Polio is a disease that affects the nerves and can make our legs very weak. It was common in the 50s in the United Kingdom when many adults and children contracted the disease.

Its effect on the nervous system means that children who contract the disease are unable to walk, or may only be able to do so with the help of callipers (Leg braces). Others have breathing difficulties.

It is only by immunisation that this country is now able to say that it is free of Polio but that is not the case in Uganda where Polio vicitims can be seen on street corners begging for food and money.


Ask the Beaver Scouts what their favourite game is. Then play it with everyone sitting on the floor and moving only using their hands and bottoms. Discuss with the Beaver Scouts what it felt like to play the game this way.
  • Was it enjoyable? Would it still be enjoyable if they had to do this all the time. They may be able to think of some other difficulties that might occur in everyday life if they didn't have the use of their legs.

From this activity comes another which you could build into a whole evenings' programme. Consider with the Beaver Scouts how people are helped in this country when they have disabilities or cannot move around on their own. Draw some of the ways in which people do manage and create a frieze to show this. If they need help to get started you might like to suggest wheelchairs, callipers, specially adapted cars and other aids for the young and old. What about prams, walking sticks, zimmer frames and of course crutches used to help people with broken legs?

Game - The Great Immunisation Relay!

Give each Lodge a card with the immunisation programme printed on it (see below). One Leader or Colony Helper has a plate with the correct number of sugar lumps and sweets on it, representing the different immunisations. Each Beaver Scout runs up in turn and gives the adult an age. If it is an appropriate one, the Leader gives the Beaver Scout an immunisation. The Beaver Scout then runs back to the Lodge, colours in the right bit of the card and then the next child goes. The Beaver Scouts will obviously have to co-operate carefully to ensure that each child gives an appropriate age, and receives an appropriate award!

Contact the Uganda Network Copyright © The UK Uganda Network - 2002
Last modified 29 December 2003


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