22 January 2018

Uganda: Parliament to Grill Four Ministers Over Delayed Albino Policies

Photo: Nadege Imbabazi/The New Times
(File photo).

Parliament — The Speaker of parliament, Rebecca Kadaga has tasked the cabinet to explain delays in enacting policies that support persons living with albinism.

"I want them after the budget, to come to the floor [of parliament] and give answers," she said.

The Speaker was on Sunday speaking at the launch of the second annual Parliament week; a seven-day period which provides chance to the public to interface with lawmakers at parliament.

Last year, the speaker instructed the government to harmonise the policies to address the needs of albinos, but to date, nothing has been done.

On the spot is the minister of Education and Sports Ms Janet Kataha Museveni, Justice and Constitutional Affairs Minister Maj Gen (rtd) Kahinda Otafire,s Muruli Mukasa and Dr Jane Aceng of the Public Service and Health respectively.

These, the speaker said must give answers on the lack of inclusive policies for persons with albinism in their dockets.

This year's activities which started on Sunday are aimed at increased awareness on the rights of persons living with albinism as well as raising funds for the construction of an albino centre.

Kadaga also announced the fulfilment of her pledge to have Parliament employ at least one person from the albino community.

"We have received the names, and interviews are starting next week. I am at least happy that we have achieved our promise," said Ms Kadaga.

Meanwhile, persons living with albinism have asked parliament to review the cancer policy alongside others so as to cater for their needs.

The call was made by Uganda Albino Association Executive Director, Jude Ssebyanzi at the same function.

"The cancer policy is worse than Ebola [because] it does not mention skin cancer which is affecting persons with albinism," said Mr Ssebyanzi.

Mr Ssebyanzi said that many persons with albinism have lost lives to the epidemic without much help from the government.

The victims of albinism also want the government to establish a special grant arguing that the existing funding facilities such as the women fund, Youth Livelihood Fund among others have been ring-fenced to able persons.

Last year, parliament voted to waive taxes on the sunscreen (a skin cream against direct sunlight) but it remains expensive, costing between Shs 70,000 and Shs 120,000.

To this, Ms Kadaga said a lot needs to be done.

"We want the ministry to declare this cream a drug to be provided by the government and not these disadvantaged community," she said.

Ms Elizabeth Kwagala, the General Secretary of Luwero District Albino Association asked parliament to expedite laws that foster inclusion for persons living with disability, arguing that the stigma is so high.

Parliament is spearheading the fundraising drive for a one-stop-centre for the albino community, estimated to cost Shs 5 billion.

Key demands by the albino community from government ministries

Health: Declare sunscreen creams a drug and not cosmetics

Education: Consider albinism a special need and print exams with bigger fonts to cater for visual challenges suffered.

Public Service: Ensure that there is inclusive employment.

Gender: Social inclusion and special grant.

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