The leader of the National Economic Empowerment Dialogue (NEED) Joseph Kabuleta has vowed to challenge the newly signed Public Health Amendment Act, 2022, saying that it is against the will of the people.
While addressing the media at the party headquarters in Kampala, Kabuleta said the new Public Health (Amendment) Act, 2022 infringes on the rights of Ugandans, noting that it is not right to force parents to vaccinate their children.
The law which was recently signed by the president, prescribes stiffer penalties for Ugandans who contravene provisions of the law, including fines of up to Shs 5m and imprisonment.
It gives the government a right to punish parents who fail to vaccinate their children or anyone who fails to report an outbreak of “unusual” diseases and disclose the whereabouts of contacts.
Parents and guardians will be required to avail vaccination certificates as a precondition for their children to be admitted to daycare, pre-primary and primary school.
It also provides for at least 16 offences, including penalising individuals spreading fake news about new emerging health issues.
Some stakeholders in the health sector expressed mixed reactions towards the law, raising concerns about its enforcement and possibility of abuse.
The concerns, notwithstanding, the stakeholders also welcomed the amendment as a progressive step in advancing public health. The repeal of criminalisation of venereal diseases as provided in the parent act, as well as updating the law to meet prevailing practices and concerns were highly welcome.
Some sticky issues that stakeholders cited as potentially problematic include the efficacy of the penalties, the mandatory access by the inspector to premises at any hour, mandatory provision of vaccination for admission of children to schools, enforcing clean homes among other
Kabuleta expressed concern that the Ministry of Health may also use the law to fulfill their personal goals, claiming that the same happened during Covid-19 period.
“The Public Health Act also stipulates fines for spreading misinformation regarding vaccines, paying Shs 1 million or spending 6 months in prison. The Minister of Health defiled this when they said vaccines are safe and effective,” he said.
He urged Ugandans to be very alert and come out in large numbers to challenge the new law because it is against their will
“Curfew was a language that came in place because of Covid-19, we are not supposed to have curfew, we are not in boarding school. The thing is, when people taste dictatorship where they can lock you up and there’s nothing you can do,” he noted.
He insisted that the act of forcing people to take the young ones for vaccination is unfair since most times such vaccinations have side effects . He advised that Ugandans should be given the opportunity to have full consent over such matters regarding the lives of their children.
“These people (Ministry of Health officials) are still having the Covid-19 hang over where they had the most power in their lives and now, they want to replicate it through some means. If the government is allowed to break the law because of an emergency, they will create an emergency so that they break the law,” he said.