In her presentation to Parliament, Aceng noted that her Ministry is preparing to table the Public Health Bill next week to cater for a number of issues including mandatory vaccination, wearing of masks and penalties. The Minister did not reveal more details about the proposed law.
The Minister of Health, Dr. Jane Ruth Aceng has notified
Parliament that she will be tabling a proposed law on Public Health next week
to provide for mandatory vaccination, wearing of masks and others.
Aceng made the statement on Thursday afternoon while responding
to different queries by Members of Parliament in regard to the government’s
preparedness to combat the new Covid variant –Omicron that has now been
detected in 23 countries across the world.
The new Covid-19 variant is reported to have originated in
Southern Africa and spread to different countries and some countries across the
world have since closed their borders on travelers from West African countries
In her presentation to Parliament, Aceng noted that her
Ministry is preparing to table the Public Health Bill next week to cater for a
number of issues including mandatory vaccination, wearing of masks and penalties. The Minister did not reveal more details about the proposed law.
The revelation was welcomed by Busiro East MP, Medard Lubega
Sseggona who said that this law is long over view since it is needed to prevent
some people from causing risk to others.
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Speaking about the new Covid variant- Omicron, Dr. Aceng told
Parliament that the suggestion for government to develop a red list and
block passengers from particular countries to enter Uganda is not a wise decision
since it is not backed by scientific research.
This followed a submission from Ibrahim Ssemujju Nganda, the
Kira Municipality MP who raised concern that the Minister had not mentioned to
parliament any new guidelines to combat the new variant yet other countries
have imposed fresh restrictions such as travel bans.
Also, the Shadow Minister of Health, Timothy Batuwa Lusala
on Tuesday proposed different interventions to the government and one of them was
the formation of a joint East African Community Taskforce to develop a common
approach towards handling the Omicron variant.
“At the moment the national task forces of the Member States
are implementing uncoordinated interventions," Batuwa said. "This has in the recent past been
noted in the stances towards vaccination and continuation of learning. Aware
that the Member States are challenged by porous borders that facilitate
uncontrolled movements, a coordinated approach would enhance measures towards
management of Covid-19 pandemic.”
He also suggested that in consultation with the other Member States in the East
African Community -EAC, Uganda should develop a red list of countries from
which travelers are temporarily not allowed to access the country.
Batuwa said that a month’s restriction is realistic for it will enable
government to attain sufficient knowledge and understanding of the Omicron
variant and that it would enable continued travels into and out of the country
with limited disturbance to the global supply chain and tourism sector.
However, Minister Aceng says that this would be a knee-jerk
reaction and not a scientific decision. She said that blocking countries
without scientific information is not a wise thing to do.
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She added that Uganda does not only have people coming
through the airport but also land border points of entry.
“Are we going to block everywhere? I think we need to take
decisions based on risk assessment," Aceng said. "And in addition to that Rt. Hon Speaker, our airport
is small…if indeed it is true that Omicron is more transmissible which we don’t
know, just one case waiting with the rest of the people at the airport is more
risky than allowing them to go home,” Aceng said.
She noted that other genexpert machines have been ordered
for and they will be delivered in January.
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The Minister’s reaction followed a question by Nakawa West
MP, Joel Ssenyonyi who asked her to inform the public about the Ministry’s readiness
and medical infrastructure in place to handle a surge in cases once the
situation gets worse.
Equally, Luuka North MP Luke Kyobe Inyensiko
asked government to explain its readiness to handle another peak of Covid-19
Regarding vaccination of the priority
groups, Aceng said that the vaccination of health workers is at 97 percent,
teachers and security personnel at 85 percent. She noted that the major
challenge is now with the vaccination of elderly but that with the accelerated
mass vaccination, government has gone closer and beginning to identify the
elderly and vaccinate them.
She however noted that the Ministry
is faced with the challenge of allowances for health workers to vaccinate that
hampers the process.