By Our Reporter
The Minister of Health, Jane Aceng has revealed that a new law that would compel all Ugandans to receive Covid-19 vaccination is in the offing and is set to be tabled before Parliament for scrutiny.
Aceng made the revelation during yesterday’s plenary sitting while updating parliament on the preparedness by Uganda to handle the issue of the new covid variant omicron that has seen nations close borders to nations who have confirmed the new variant.
The Minister said, “Next week, I will be laying on table amendments to the public health act that will cater for a number of issues including mandatory vaccination and also people who don’t put on masks and people who don’t follow what we can do to handle them.”
Aceng was responding to several questions posed by MPs on what plans Government has in enforcing a number of Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) including vaccination, wearing of masks, avoiding crowded places in order to contain the spread of covid-29.
During the debate, Timothy Batuwa (Jinja East) who also doubles as Shadow Minister of Health urged Government to consider emulating the western nations that have drawn up a red list in order to allow Uganda to study and prepare for the fears in the Minister’s statement on the new variant.
He said, “After realizing that time is passing, without a country coming up with a responsive plan, to the danger of omicron, we suggested that we should develop a red list because we know the countries where this variant is.”
However, Minister Aceng rejected the proposal saying nations enforcing red lists are panic and Uganda won’t follow draw a red list until the Ministry of Health has gathered enough information on the new omicron variant.
“The issue of having a red list of countries and blocking countries to come in, isn’t a scientific decision, it is rather a knee-jerk decision. Omicron can be anywhere and I already mentioned that it is already in 23 countries. So starting to block countries without having enough information isn’t the right thing to do. We need more information on omicron,” said Minister Aceng.
She also alluded to the red list being racist in nature, saying most of the nations that have landed on red list are from Africa.
Solomon Silwany (Bukooli Central) asked the Minister to explain if the new variant will affect the January 10th 2022 re-opening of schools would be affected.
Ibrahim Ssemujju (Kira Municipality) castigated the Ministry of Health for looking on as people spread misinformation, citing a case of an anonymous lady who sent a recording warning people in Acholi against taking the Covid-19 vaccines, under claims it would kill them.
“If the whole of Acholi, one woman can moblise people against vaccines and succeeds, you government, have people lost faith in you? The whole of Government from President to Ministers, one women can begin mobilising and succeeds, said Ssemujju.
He wondered how Government can brag about having 17million covid vaccines in possession and only 6million people have been vaccinated.
“You have said you have 17 million doses in the country, but you have only administered 6 million doses. And you aren’t reporting about expiry, we need to understand whether relieve you of this duty s and we hire a woman like her to mobilise people for vaccination,” said Ssemujju.
The Minister told Parliament that Uganda has received a total of 17,131,090 doses through donations and direct procurement by the Government of which 10,523,853 doses have been distributed countrywide. Distribution of the remaining 6,607,237 doses is ongoing.
She said Uganda expects additional 15,563,237 doses of various vaccines by end of December 2021 and that so far, 6,973,161 doses of the covid vaccine has been administered to the population.