15 December 2017

Uganda: Medics Call for Mental Examination of Presidential Candidates

Medics have recommended that presidential candidates as well as other leaders be subjected to full mental and physical examinations to ascertain their level of thinking, recognition of challenges and planning abilities to lead.

According to the medics under Uganda Medical Association (UMA), as an association, they are ready to offer the medical tests at no cost.

UMA was consulted by the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs committee to give their views on whether a 75-year-old person is physically and mentally fit enough to perform leadership roles.

This was in relation to the age limit bill expected to be tabled for the second and third reading in Parliament next week. The bill seeks to scrap presidential age limits currently capped between 35 and 75 years.

Led by the UMA president Dr Anthony Obuku Ekwaro, the doctors said they had presented their report to the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs committee chairperson Jacob Oboth Oboth and a copy to Speaker Rebecca Kadaga as well.

The doctors met Kadaga at Parliament yesterday over unfulfilled commitments made by government last month in a trade-off for the doctors to call off their strike.

In their report, the doctors argue that subjecting leaders to mental and physical examination gives voters confidence on how well their leaders will reason and perform their tasks.

"We are making an important recommendation that anybody who intends to lead this country and leadership anywhere should be mentally assessed as well as physical assessed and this should serve to all other leaders and we are ready to provide this service free of charge," Obuku said.

Obuku however said that as doctors, they do not have the authority to answer a political question like whether at 75 years, someone has the capacity to still perform effectively.

"For us as scientists we are unlikely to have authority to answer such a political question and as we know, age is a spectrum," Obuku said.

"We looked at the speed of information processing as one grows old, which reflects the efficiency of cognitive operations, attention as one grows old, the capacity for processing information with issues to do with memory and the executive functions like regulation of behavior among others," Obuku added.

Obuku noted that their role as doctors was to answer to a scientific question meant to empower parliamentarians to make a decision in regard to the age, but not giving a political answer on whether President Museveni at 75 years can or cannot lead.

In their report, Obuku said they also focused on reasoning abilities, language function, and intelligence among other things.

"We have however concluded that following the scientific evidences available, people aspiring for highest office in the land should be subjected to tests," he said.



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