Man sues government over failure to fully recall defective batches of life guard condoms

By Sania Babirye

A Ugandan citizen who claims to have contracted HIV/AIDS after using a defective life guard condom has sued government for failing to remove the said defective condoms on the market.

In a petition filed in the high court civil division, Joseph Kintu claims that the said condoms are still in circulation since several other batches were not recalled from bars and retail shops because NDA and Marie Stopes’ mandates are limited to pharmacies and drug stores.

Kintu claims that 30% of the defective condoms are still being sold and many Ugandans continue to contract sexually transmitted diseases on a daily basis .

He further claims that people with hearing and sight impairments have also complained that government did not communicate to them in form of sign language to alert them of the defective condoms on market as such communication was published in either News papers or placed on Radio and TV stations yet many of them are still using the said condoms and have since tested positive to STDs.

Kintu wants court to declare that the failure by government and concerned parties to fully recall the defective batches of Lifeguard condoms on the market a violation of the right to health as people continue to contract sexually transmitted infections and unwanted pregnancies.

Court is yet to summon government for defense.

Kawempe hospital receives washing and drying machines for new born intensive care

By Alice Lubwama

Plan international Uganda has donated a washing and drying machine worth 9 million shillings to the newborn intensive care unit of Kawempe regional hospital.

Handing over the equipment to the director of this hospital Dr Nehemiah Katusiime the head of programs at plan International Uganda Greg Lavender said the donation is made to reaffirm the organization commitment towards working with the Government in strengthening the health service delivery to reduce child mortality.

“We urge the facility to utilize the equipment very well to meet the goal of saving the lives of the new-born children in Uganda”. Greg said.

The Neonatal specialist at Kawempe hospital Dr Margaret Nakaketo says the machine will help them to reduce on the infections among the premature and sick babies, since mothers have been mixing baby clothes with other dirty linen.

“Infection control is paramount in the management of babies, so this machine will help us to wash and dry the clothes any time and the babies will always have clean linen.” added Nakaketo

Nakaketo also intimated that infections have been a big problem for the unit where mothers come in with all sorts of clothes which are dirty to carry in their babies but with the machine, they will be able to buy their own linen and give it to every mother.

In Uganda, 14 out of every 100 babies are born preterm and complications of premature account for about 29% of neonatal deaths.

The sustainable development goals call for the end of preventable maternal new-born and child deaths by the year 2030, but neonatal mortality remains a big problem in Uganda contributing up to 45% of overall deaths among children less than five years of age.

Ministry of health warns public to be mindful of the quality of masks

By Alice Lubwama

The Ministry of health has issued guidelines for making masks stressing that masks made out of cotton clothing has the ability to protect one from infections by 95%.

Health Minister Dr Jane Ruth Aceng says that while Government is in the process of distributing free masks, Ugandans are free to buy masks from other sources but must ensure that they meet the set standards.

The minister says that those intending to make their own masks must ensure that they have good quality materials especially cotton and filters.

Dr Aceng has also advised the public to make sure that masks are washed and ironed before being used the next day

She has also guided on when a person should wear a mask.

AirQo pushes for clean air for better health

By Edwin Muhumuza

Ugandans have been urged to desist from activities that contribute to poor air quality.

This is was said at the commemoration of the 14th annual Air Quality Awareness Week 2020.

The week-long celebrations were held under the theme “Better Air, Better Health,” with the aim of raising awareness on air quality and its effect on health.

Their concerns come amid the deteriorating air quality which is not only imposing a health burden on City residents but is also making the city unattractive for visitors and investments.

Most of these activities include burning rubbish and idling engine in traffic with calls now to adopting cleaner cooking initiatives, servicing cars in time, and minimizing driving and embracing carpooling and non-motorized transportation during peak pollution hours.

Among the participants were the U.S. Mission Kampala, AirQo of Makerere University, Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA), and the National Environment Management
Authority (NEMA)

The ,KCCA Executive Director,Engineering Andrew Kitaka noted that in addition to the 25 air quality monitors deployed within the city, KCCA had put in place interventions such as paving of roads to reduce dust with now over 210Km of roads completed and many more currently under construction. He further added that they were ensuring traffic control measures like signalization of junctions to improve traffic , the enforcement of the tobacco control act to reduce smoking in public and also working with industries on cleaner production.

The Project Lead at AirQo Prof. Engineer Bainomugisha,said that the first step in being
able to improve air quality is being able to measure it,however, reference-grade monitors are extremely expensive, and as a result, limits the scale of air quality monitoring a situation that requires more funding.

Finally in her submission,the Senior Environmental Inspector, NEMA, Jenifer Kutesakwe,noted that the proposed interventions by other stakeholders were a step in the right direction and only if human activities are moderated,while involving members of the public, then the goal to achieve clean air would be quickly attainable.

In recent years, Kampala has been cited to be among the highly polluted cities in Africa with air pollution levels over six times higher than the World Health Organizations air quality guidelines.

This was courtesy of, the AirQo project from the College of Computing and Information Sciences, Makerere University which designed and deployed over eighty (80) low-cost air quality monitors across Uganda built locally and uniquely designed to withstand the environmental and physical conditions such as dust and extreme weather conditions.

However, the recent analysis carried out by AirQo and NEMA on the effects of restriction on movement during the COVID-19 lock down, there was a drop in air pollution by up to 40% for Particulate Matter and more than 60% for Nitrogen Oxide(NO2) .This was largely a result of slow-down in traffic, commercial and other pollution generating activities.

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.


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.
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.