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Legality of COVID-19 Taskforce Questioned as Health Committee Takes Charge

On Tuesday, MPs had a lengthy discussion on the legality of the Katuntu led Taskforce. The Deputy speaker constituted the task force without approval from the house, which has raised questions among some members.
Dr Charles Ayume chairing the Health Committeee

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The Health Committee of Parliament has resolved to visit each of the 353 constituencies nationwide to assess the status of health facilities.  Last week, the Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Annet Anita Among directed the newly constituted Health Committee chaired by Koboko Municipality Member of Parliament, Dr. Charles Ayume to conduct a nationwide assessment of the state of health facilities. 

The Speaker’s directive came as a 40-member parliamentary Taskforce on COVID-19 led by Abdu Katuntu; the Bugweri county MP was already in the field assessing the COVID-19 interventions by the Government, which took them to various health facilities. The task force covered all regions of the country. However, on Tuesday, MPs had a lengthy discussion on the legality of the Katuntu led Taskforce. 

The Deputy speaker constituted the task force without approval from the house, which has raised questions among some members. By the time Among formed the task force, parliament had not yet constituted house committees. It is the mandate of the Health committee to do oversight on health-related matters. Key concerns include whether Parliament needed to form a task force to play its mandate.

On whether the committee should take on the findings of the Taskforce, which are due to be presented on Thursday, Ayume says that this is a different assignment with a different mandate. He, however, says that the committee can borrow from the task force report. He says that the taskforce chairperson Abdu Katuntu had already guided on the issue of legality but asked the Legal officer of Parliament to guide the members again.

This is after Yusuf Nsibambi, the Mawokota South MP questioned the legality of the task force led by Katuntu in light of proposals that the committee adopts the health committee report.    

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The committee Legal officer however guided that the task force was legally constituted by the Deputy Speaker of Parliament. 

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Dr. Charles Ayume, the health Committee chairperson who was also the chairperson for the northern Uganda team said they received guidance in regards to the legality of the task force.  

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On the new mandate of the Health committee, Ayume, said it is impossible to inspect the over 2000 health facilities in the country, saying there is need to work out modalities to execute the assignment.

The meeting resolved that the committee only visit health facilities that were left out by the task force.

The committee also agreed that instead of visiting districts, they should go to constituencies and work with the area MP.  Ayume said they will have to break up into 11 teams of 3 people each so as to cover the entire country.

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