KAMPALA, UGANDA: The private health sector officials under their umbrella body, the Uganda Health Care Federation have sought more time from Members of parliament to make a decision on government’s proposal that seeks to make vaccination mandatory.
Led by the Federation Executive Director Grace Kiwanuka, the officials on Monday appeared before Parliament’s Health Committee that is currently considering the Public Health (Amendment) Bill, 2021.
Under the Bill, government through the Ministry of Health proposes a fine of four million Shillings or a prison sentence of up to six months for persons who fail to comply with a requirement for vaccination.
The Bill provides that in the event of the occurrence or outbreak of any disease that requires vaccination or revaccination for residents, a local government council shall issue a public notice requesting all persons to undergo inspection, vaccination and revaccination.
However, Kiwanuka says that they are still making consultations on mandatory vaccination and they need more time to come up with a resolution. She says that vaccination has proved to be good on adults in most cases and hence a need to analyze the proposal more.
Kiwanuka’s statement followed an inquiry from the Health Committee Vice Chairperson Joel Ssebikali, who asked the officials to give their views on the proposal of mandatory vaccination.
Meanwhile, the private health sector players want more involvement in the management of the country’s health sector through different amendments to some provisions of the proposed Bill.
Dr. Mamello Muhanuzi, the health care management consultant also asked the committee to allow the medical officers have powers to destroy infected items saying that the proposal to seek an order might result into unnecessary delays which might result into spread.
She also says that the definition of a medical officer in the Bill implies that the officer is only employed by government, and excludes medical officers employed in the private sector.
According to the Bill, a number of definitions and phrases define a medical officer to mean one in the employment of the Authority, a Local Government and Government.
Dr. Muhanuzi suggested that the definition should refer to a medical officer as duly registered by the Uganda Medical and Dental Practitioners’ Council saying that all medical workers have equal professional responsibility.
She further observed that public health emergency reporting seems to be a preserve of government or local government employees and therefore a need for an amendment to include relevant qualified personnel within the private sector.
Dr. Muhanuzi also said that the Bill concentrates on addressing infectious diseases only, but ought to make considerations for non-communicable diseases.
Victor Nekesa, the UPDF representative said that consultations on the Bill require to be broadened in regard to parental consent for vaccination, to involve general health and moral values.
Hope Nakazibwe, the Mubende Woman MP said that whenever vaccines are produced, there are always publications on how they work and their potential side effects. She said that in the amendment, the committee needs to emphasize the need for local governments to announce vaccination programs in a timely manner.
Ssebikali, the committee Vice Chairperson said there ought to be some limitations on dissemination of information on public health, noting that some people tend to misuse it.
The objective of the Public Health (Amendment) Bill, 2021 is to amend the Public Health Act to repeal the obsolete provisions, revise the fines for offences committed under the Act, repeal the provisions on venereal diseases, building and construction and public sewers and to repeal the Venereal Diseases Act, Cap. 284 and the Immunization Act, 2017.