Traders Want say in Public Health Decision Making

Traders seek involvement in  decisions that ensure public health saying a number of clauses in the Public Health (Amendment) Bill 2021 directly affect their day to day activities.

Joseph Ssebunya, the Legal Advisor for Kampala City Traders Association (KACITA) cited clause 19 of the Bill that gives the minister power to make rules to prevent and suppress infectious diseases.

He said such rules would have adverse effects on members of the association and other stakeholders if they are made without their consultation and input on decisions.
“Clause 52 empowers the minister to make rules about nuisance. We propose that the rules are made in consultation with KACITA because they apply to trade premises which will affect our members,” Ssebunya said.

Ssebunya said this while appearing before Parliament’s Health Committee on Thursday, 17 March 2022 to present KACITA’s position on the Public Health (Amendment) Bill.

He also said that Clause 67 that prohibits sleeping in a room with foodstuffs should make an exception for market vendors or traders with large food storages.

Ssebunya cited the directive by President Yoweri Museveni at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic in Uganda in 2020, which allowed traders to shelter in the market areas.
“During the Covid-19 lockdown, there was a picture of a lady who was sleeping under a mosquito net next to her foodstuffs in Nakasero market. The new law should consider these categories of people in case of another disease outbreak,” Ssebunya added.

Dr. Rehema Gonsha, a board member of KACITA said the Bill should provide measures to regulate other forms of medicine picking out Chinese medicine and local herbals.

She said a number of traders with whom she interacts have fallen victim to erroneous diagnoses and treatment.
“By the time people come to the hospital, the actual disease has already advanced yet they have been treated for non-existent conditions. The people offering these treatments should be regulated because they are taking advantage of gaps in the law,” Gonsha said.
She added that it is KACITA’s position that Government should regulate other medical players like pharmacies to carry vaccinations.

Gonsha said this will go a long way in increasing the number of people who can get vaccinated especially in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“The Ministry of Health will tell you that they have the vaccines but limited manpower to issue them out and the people who are willing to get vaccinated cannot access these vaccines,” she said adding that, ‘Government cannot afford to reach and vaccinate everyone. Legally, pharmacists are accepted to carry out vaccinations but it is not provided for in the law and the public is missing out a lot’.

She decried the use of anti-retroviral (ARV) drugs that are fed to animals to fatten them saying that when humans consume the meat, they risk developing resistance to medicines.
“Antimicrobial resistance is a big problem worldwide and the Bill should address its causes and subsequent effects on the population,” said Gonsha.

Committee Chairperson, Hon. Charles Ayume said that vaccination by private medical players was limited to recommended routine vaccinations and not instances of emergency situations.
“Partners like World Health Organization give vaccines to government and they usually expect that these vaccines will be administered through government channels. Your suggestion of pharmacists carrying out vaccination will require us to amend the law,” Ayume said.

He, however, commended KACITA’s recommendations and said that their input will be incorporated in the committee’s report.

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