Handshakes, hugging banned as government take precaution against corona virus

By Deo Wasswa

The ministry of health has banned handshakes and hugging in a bid to prevent the spread of Corona Virus that started in Wuhan China.

The minister for health Jane Ruth Aceng has also announced that all passengers arriving in the country through Entebbe International Airport will be sprayed with sanitizers to avoid importation of the virus, while travelers from China, Italy, Spain, USA, France, Netherlands, Germany that have been ravaged by the disease will be subjected to 14 days of self-quarantine on their cost upon their arrival in Uganda

She noted that the government has reviewed the evolution of corona virus in the affected countries to ensure they come up with appropriate measures to deal with the disease.

Minister noted that Travelers from 16 countries where the virus is on high such as China, Italy, Spain, USA, France, Netherlands, Germany among others will be subjected to 14 days of self-quarantine on their cost upon their arrival at Entebbe airport.

The ministry also confirmed that as of now, no any case of corona virus has been identified in Uganda.

However service providers especially boda boda riders are asking government to provide treated surgical masks to boda boda riders as a means of preventing them from being infected with Corona virus.

It should be noted that areas like Acacia have been known to host a decent number of foreigners that people offering especially transportation services are asking government for serious precautionary intervention.

Capital radio managed to speak to Ssenyonjo Joseph a boda boda rider at Acacia who expressed the fear that if Corona virus enters Uganda they will be infected since they transport different people who come from different countries.The nature of their business doesn’t discriminate who they transport and who they leave.

However

Food activists demand for regulations of junk food consumption

By Sania Babirye

A Human Rights Organization named Center for Food and Adequate Living Rights,(CEFROHT) has dragged government to the high court in Kampala over what it has been termed as failure by government to regulate the advertisement and consumption of junk food by children which has affected their health.

Through Dalumba and Company Advocates, Kabanda David, the Executive Director of (CEFROHT)wants court to issue orders compelling government to regulate laws in regard to marketing, sale, importation and subsequent consuming of junk foods to children.

According to documents filed in court,they claim many children are suffering noncommunicable diseases such as cancers, diabetes, heart diseases and obesity due to the failure by government to monitor the sale and marketing of junk foods.

They say that if government restricts the constant marketing and advertisement of junk foods, it will reduce their intake there by protecting then from the said increasing diseases brought by as a result of their increased consumption.

The organisation further claims that they carried out a research in 2019 and discovered that 95% of children in Kindergarten Schools are consuming sweetened beverages and fast foods which is bought and parked by their Parents.

They are suing the government through the attorney general jointly with Uganda Communication commission.

The said suit is going to be heard in the 16th of March before Justice Andrew Bashaija.

Albertine Region listed among cholera hotspots

By Moses Kidandi

Local leaders in west Nile region have embarked on a rapid campaign to sensitize communities against Cholera.

This follows a world Health organization( WHO) and UNICEF report mapping the Albertine regions comprising of Nebbi and Packwach as cholera hot spots in Africa.

The two districts of Nebbi and Packwach stood out among those with annual rampant occurrences of Cholera.This has been is due water contamination in these areas.

In a bid to reduce the hygiene and sanitation related diseases such as cholera, Uganda Red Cross with support from the Cartier Foundation are implementing a long term WASH integrated project targeting fishing communities in Nebbi and Packwach districts in West Nile, Northern Uganda.

The project includes the extension of piped water from Nyarwodo gravity flow scheme to Mamba Trading Centre, Alala center and connection of 15 villages with a total of 150 households, three institutions (Padwot Primary school, Mamba Secondary school , and Padwot Midiere Health Center 111 which are serving a population of approximately 2700 people.

While addressing the media at the handover of the Ugx 1,787,100,000/= project, Robert Kwesiga, Uganda Red Cross Secretary General said the project is supported by the Cartier team and the International Federation of the Red cross .

The project also includes installation of three boreholes located at Jafurunga, Abia – Nebbi district and Nyakiro South in Pakwach district and serving the population (1,705 persons) in Jafurunga Abia, and Nyakiro South and Rehabilitation of 5 boreholes in the areas of Kucwiny P/S, Kucwiny HCIII, Alwala East,Nyakiro P/S and Kivuje PS.

Robert Kwesiga says there is need to embark on the construction of more latrines to help communities live a healthy life.

Three pediatric theaters commissioned at Mulago

By Gloria Nakiyimba

The ministry of Health has commissioned three [3] state of the art Pediatric theaters at Mulago Specialized Hospital.

Speaking at the commissioning of the Theaters today, the minister of Health Jane Ruth Aceng noted that these will act as referral points where children with special needs in Oncology and Pulomonology and other conditions will be treated.
Cancer and lung related disease are some the conditions among children that require special attention.
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This now brings the total number of children’s theaters to 11 in the country. The regional pediatric hospital in Entebbe alone with eight operating theaters dedicated to children.

“This is a very great achievement for Uganda , however our main focus is on disease prevention so that only children who have unpreventable health issues will be able to access specialized healthcare at these centers” said Dr. Jane Ruth Aceng.

The theaters are specifically tailored for children with special pediatric equipment and instruments, well trained Pediatric surgeons and anesthesiologists.

Father remanded over child neglect

By Sania Babirye

City hall court has remanded a father of four children over child neglect.

The suspect is identified as 46 year year old Tushabe Richard .

He appeared before grade one magistrate Valerian Tuhimbise who charged him with child neglect for allegedly refusing and also charged with domestic abuse.

He however pleaded not guilty to the said two counts and was remanded until tomorrow the 11th of June when hearing of his case is expected to begin.

Prosecution states that since July 2015 at Kisenyi Kamwokya being a biological father of 4 children aged between 7 and 10 years, the suspect neglected to provide sufficient food, shelter, clothing, education and medical care thereby injuring their health.

Prosecution adds that in the same period at Kisenyi Kamwokya, Tushabe unlawfully engaged himself in the act of violence against his wife Jackline Nyirakarasha Tushabe.

Civil society petitions Kadaga over low budgets for palliative care

By Deo Wasswa

Eight leading civil society organizations working on Palliative Care, Health Rights and Budget Advocacy petitioned the Deputy Speaker of Parliament of Uganda on the low budgetary allocation for palliative care services in Uganda.

The organizations led by the Palliative Care Association of Uganda (PCAU) presented a joint statement at the Chambers of the Deputy Speaker.

While presenting the petition, Rose Kiwanuka the Country Director of PCAU who led the delegation said that Palliative Care is recognized as an essential service by the government of Uganda. She added that Palliative care is a component of the definition of Universal Health Coverage (UHC), which has a central place in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030.

Ms Kiwanuka noted that the World Health Organization (WHO) had defined Palliative as an approach that improves the quality of life of patients and their families facing the problems associated with life-threatening illness, through the prevention and relief of suffering by means of early identification and thorough assessment and treatment of pain and other problems, physical, psychosocial and spiritual. She noted that this unique service provides relief from pain and other distressing symptoms among patients but also affirms life and regards dying as a normal process.

On who needs palliative care, Ms. Kiwanuka mentioned that the World Health Organization had identified the diseases that require palliative care for adults and children to include; cancer, cardiovascular/heart, HIV/AIDS and liver, and kidney diseases, among others. The majority of adults in need of palliative care have chronic diseases such as cardiovascular diseases (38.5%), cancer (34%), chronic respiratory diseases (10.3%), AIDS (5.7%) and diabetes (4.6%).

Ms. Kiwanuka pointed out that the provision of palliative care in Uganda began in with the establishment of Hospice Africa Uganda (HAU) in 1993 and that Uganda was viewed by the world as one of the countries with the best models of palliative care provision in Africa. Ms Kiwanuka thanked the government of Uganda for integrating Palliative Care in Uganda’s Health Sector Strategic Plans since 2004. She also thanked the Ministry of Health for establishing a Public Private Partnership (PPP) with Hospice Africa for the production of oral liquid morphine which is available for patients in need free of charge. Uganda was the first country in the world to allow specially trained nurses to prescribe morphine for pain control.

On access to Palliative Care Services, Ms. Kiwanuka noted that currently, only 11% of those who need pain control and palliative care access it in Uganda. She said that the country’s Health Sector Development Plan 2015/16 – 2019/20, showed that palliative care services were being offered in only 4.8% of the public hospitals in the country. She added that the 2017 Annual Report of the Uganda Human Rights Commission pointed out various gaps in the provision of palliative care services which included the following:

Uganda lacked a standalone palliative care policy to guide the implementation of palliative care services.

The public health structure emphasizes institutionalized care as opposed to home care which is the most suitable model for palliative care provision in countries like Uganda.

There was inadequate training of palliative care providers which was coupled with the fact that the public civil service structure did not recognize the few qualified health workers in the field of palliative care.

One of the petitioners Dr. Emmanuel Luyirika the Executive Director of The Palliative Care Association (APCA) informed the Deputy Speaker that whereas Uganda was the first country to start Palliative Care in Eastern Africa, the neighboring countries are making great strides. He mentioned that Rwanda and Tanzania passed their National Palliative Care Policies. He reminded the speaker that Uganda is a party to key international legal frameworks which called for superior investment in Palliative Care. He mentioned the frameworks to include:

The 2014 World Health Assembly Resolution on strengthening palliative care as a component of comprehensive care throughout the life course.

The 2017 World Health Assembly Resolution on cancer which commits Governments to provide pain relief and palliative care to their citizens.

The African Union (AU) Common Position on Controlled Substances and Access to Pain Medications which speaks to the availability of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances to provide relief from pain and suffering associated with serious chronic illnesses.

One of the petitioners from the Initiative for Social and Economic Rights (ISER) Ms. Allana Kembabazi noted that Palliative care had not realized direct funding or vote in Uganda’s national budget. She said that in the Budget Framework Paper for the 2019/20 financial year, there were significant budget cuts that touch the provision of palliative care. She pointed out that the proposed Uganda Cancer Institute (UCI) budget for the FY 2019/20 was projected to decrease by UGX 30.561 billion (33.513%) from UGX91.192 billion in FY 2018/19 to UGX 60.631 billion. Ms. Allan implored the government to increase investment in health care which is a fundamental right to citizens.

At the same meeting Ms. Fatia Kiyange from the African Palliative Care Association (APCA) stated that in order to improve palliative care service provision in Uganda the civil society organizations recommend that:

Government fast tracks the development, approval and ensures funding for the implementation of the National Palliative Care Policy.

Government initiates steps to progressively realize direct funding for palliative care services in Uganda. There should be a vote for palliative care in the future national budgets of Uganda.

Government considers investing in human resources for palliative care by training palliative care providers at all levels.

The Health Service Commission and other relevant bodies should recognize palliative care as a medical, nursing and allied health workers specialty and therefore recruit and retain palliative care specialists in service at least up to Health Centre IV level.

While considering passing the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) Government should ensure that the scheme covers all conditions that require palliative care.

Government considers deliberate funding to Private Not for Profit t Standalone Hospices to strengthen home and community care among palliative care patients and their families.

On his part, the Deputy Speaker of Parliament thanked members of the civil society for their thoughtfulness about such a pertinent issue; Palliative Care. He noted that he was glad that a team of committed palliative care practitioners chosen to bring this to the issue to parliament for attention. He said that parliament is committed to discussing such real-life issues which touch the core of humanity. He informed the members present that the role of allocating resources in the national budget rested with the President and that Parliament discusses the proposals made. He advised the Palliative Care Fraternity to prepare to engage with the process of budgeting for the next financial year. He pledged that his office would be fully supportive of the processes to ensure that Palliative Care services are funded by the government.

New HPV vaccine to save women from cervical cancer

By Moses Kidandi
In a bid to reduce the number of women who succumb to cervical cancer in the country, the ministry of health has appealed to the Uganda cancer institute to make available vaccination of adults against the human papillomavirus (HPV) in the country.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the East African region carries the highest burden of cervical cancer globally and Uganda is among the five countries with the highest rates in Africa.

Now the state minister of Health for General Duties Sarah Opendi says much as government introduced free vaccination of girls aged 10 years against HPV in the country, it is being constrained by limited funds to also cater for the vaccination of female adults.

She however says once the Uganda cancer institute makes available this vaccination, it can be easily accessed by women at a fairer price.

Parliament should bring back bleeding disorder bill

By Daudi Zirimala

The Minister of Health in Charge of General Duties Joyce Moriku Kaducu has called upon members of parliament to bring back the bill on bleeding disorders for debate to enable the ministry to plan thoroughly on bleeding disorders.

Speaking during the World Hemophilia day in Kampala, Dr Kaducu said that the bill was differed for further consultation when it was brought in parliament but it’s high time for parliament to debate again passes this bill to cater for hemophilia conditions.

She said that hemophilia foundation of Uganda is working hand in hand with the ministry of health to create a dedicated heamohopilia center in Mulago and regional referral hospitals and equip the centers with factors and reagents for testing heamophilia.

Heamophilia is an inherited genetic disorder that impairs the bodys ability to control blood clotting when blood vessel is broken and people with heamopholia do not bleed any faster than normal,they bleed for a much longer time.Over 2583 people are estimated to have heamophilia in Uganda and only 3.2% of the 2583 are diagnosed,96.8% remain misdiagnosed.

Hospitals registering many cases of anemia among pregnant mothers

By Moses Kidandi
The Government is registering a high increase in a number of anemia cases mainly in children and expectant mothers.

This has been attributed to poor feeding habits and several unknown reasons which are now being investigated by the Ministry of Health.

Health minister Jane Ruth Aceng who has expressed concern over the growing concerns was speaking at the launch of the Nutrition Society of Uganda at Makerere University school of food science.

The minister has how ever said Government has developed new strategies to address the challenges. She is now encouraging parents to start feeding them selves and their children with foods rich in iron.

Anemia in pregnant women has been attributed to their laxity in taking the recommended care and iron tablets as they under go antenatal care from health centers.

The senior economist in the office of the Prime Minister Galiwango Samuel while presenting a paper on key government strategies at the launch noted that the cases registered are worrying and recommended that mothers feed their children on fiber foods like Sweet potatoes, vegetables and beans from the routine served meals of posho, rice and other jack foods.

US spent 506.1 M dollars on improving health in Uganda

By Gloria Nakimba
A total of 8.76 million Ugandans were tested for HIV/AIDS in 2017, according to new report to the Ugandan People released by the US Embassy in Kampala on Thursday.
US Ambassador to Uganda Deborah Malac says her government spent  506.1 million US dollars, about 1.8 trillion Uganda shillings in assistance to promote a healthy Uganda while the overall  assistance to the  Ugandan people  in the financial year 2017 totaled  to 971 Million US dollars  approximately  3.6 trilling shillings.
According to the report nearly 60% of Ugandans living with HIV achieved viral load suppression which has been shown to reduce onward transmission by 96%.
Ambassador Malac however noted that there are still challenges regarding resources for health workers asking government to invest more in the health sector to address this challenge.
This she says is a challenge not just in Uganda but in a number of countries where the resources are constrained, and health workers including nurses, midwives and physician are not paid enough to retain them to keep them as part of the system.
Center for Disease Control country director   Dr. Lisa Nelson noted that Uganda has registered great progress in HIV response getting towards the epidemic control as well as controlling malaria.
She explained that much of the support was towards the health sector to help the country deal with disease outbreaks “Uganda is in the Congo basin with a lot of emerging disease threats, and I think one of the things the US government and all agencies are involved in is also supporting Uganda to have the system to detect disease outbreaks and be prepared to respond so that they don’t spread and contain economic impact of those threats” Dr. Lisa Nelson told the media at the launch of the report at the American embassy in Nsambya. She hailed Uganda’s capability to diagnose infections as and when they break out.
“Some of your institutions such as Uganda virus research institute really are world class and are able to detect these disease and able to detect them in a timely fashion” she said.
Uganda is among 13 countries that were selected as one of the comprehensive countries to focus on epidemic control. Amy Cunningham Coordinator PEPFAR program told the media in Kampala that the country is two years away from epidemic control.
PEPFAR supported 993,070 of the 1,051,138 Ugandans receiving treatment for HIV last year. According to the report, more than 26 million Ugandans were kept safe from Malaria last year, thanks to the insecticide treated mosquito nets that were distributed under the US President’s Malaria initiative.
More than one million insecticide treated nets were distributed to families and 200,000 nets were handed out to pregnant women.
Malaria remains the leading cause of illness in the country resulting in 27 to 34 percent of outpatient hospital visits and 19 to 30 percent of hospital admissions country wide .On the issue of stability, the US government contributed 371.3 million dollars that is 1.3 trillion shillings to promote a stable Uganda.
According to Ambassador Malac  some this money went towards supporting the country’s response to an influx of refugees.
 1.3 million Refugees in Uganda received assistance through support from the Bureau of population refugees and migration at the US department of state
She hailed Uganda’s response towards refugees fleeing fighting back home especially those from South Sudan
“We continue to be very impressed with the government of Uganda and the Ugandan people’s willingness to accept refugees, it’s really a very extraordinary position” Ambassador Malac noted.