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Wednesday, 4 March 2009
Parliament met at 2.49 p.m. in Parliament House, Kampala.
(The Speaker, Mr Edward Ssekandi, in the Chair.)
The House was called to order.
THE SPEAKER: Hon. Members, I welcome you to this sitting.
MS CHRISTINE BAKO (FDC, Woman Representative, Arua): Thank you, Mr Speaker. I rise on a matter of national concern particularly pertaining to the peasantry of this country.
You may be aware that two days ago the minister in charge of agriculture released to the press information that in this country we are going to have agricultural extension services based on six households per parish. According to her statistics, therefore, we will be serving 30,000 households annually.
Mr Speaker, you remember last financial year we passed a budget of Shs 40 billion for NAADS and Shs 20 billion was taken as a microfinance component. According to the NAADS Act of 2001, the mechanisms of operationalising NAADS are not as they were prescribed today. A week or so ago, there was a letter from the Office of the President giving directives to ensure that only six households per parish benefit from the National Agricultural Advisory Services (NAADS).
The National Agricultural Advisory Services as it is supposed to be a private sector led, demand driven extension service provision. In the NAADS Act, we are aware that this extension service is supposed to go to all farmers in this country. However, the current composition of the management of NAADS at the sub-county does not advocate for what it is in the Act. Consequently, this kind of provision today as to how NAADS is going to be implemented is irregular. It is a reflection of a total lack of respect for the law. I am, therefore, appealing to this House to pronounce itself on NAADS as it was before we can accommodate what it is right now.
I looked in detail at the Prosperity-for-All election promise of Mr Museveni to this country. In his manifesto, related to agriculture, there was no component related to NAADS. His election promise never premised itself on NAADS as a way of trying to be acceptable by the people who gave him the mandate. It is a total reflection of the abuse of this institution - Parliament. Before we revisit the NAADS Act, how can we see the implementation of service provision in agriculture being driven by political tendencies? The sub-county farmers forum, for example, does not include anything to do with the chairman of the Movement party in the sub-county but today (Interruption)
THE SPEAKER: Honourable, what exactly do you want? Do you want an authoritative statement on the matter so that we debate it?
MS BAKO: Mr Speaker, what I want is first and foremost, a thorough explanation to this House as to how these six households per parish came about. This is because we are trying to operationalise NAADS out of the law that established it.
Secondly -(Interruption)
MR TUMWEBAZE: Mr Speaker and honourable colleagues, thank you for giving way. The piece of information I want to volunteer here is that NAADS is one of the pillars of the Plan for Modernisation of Agriculture (PMA). It is just like NARS for agricultural research or like the component of rural finance.
Where I agree with you is that NAADS as of now is being taken as a holistic intervention to even include other components that would have been independently catered for under PMA. Government should have seen that there is a need to amend the NAADS Act. So, the information that anybody should take now is concentrating on amending the NAADS Act to expand the mandate of NAADS to not only deliver extension but to even give inputs and to support the value chain. Thank you.
THE SPEAKER: You are on the Floor, hon. Bako; I just want to know what you want done.
MS BAKO: Thank you, Mr Speaker. Definitely, I would want to talk but wisdom from grey hair should have been better, but that is not the scenario now.
What I want is for the minister to explain to this House how the Ministry of Agriculture is going to implement NAADS the way it has been prescribed and decreed by the President before consulting this House and before we amend the NAADS Act as it is.
Secondly, I appreciate the information given by my brother, the farmers president, but I want to assure this House and Ugandans that NAADS as a component of PMA is run as a corporate body and hence has the legal obligation to sue or to be sued. In any case farmers, even now, have a right to sue NAADS because of the way it is going to be managed if we are not very careful. So, at this point in time, I would expect a response from government because this is taking farmers and the peasants of this country for granted. I thank you.
THE SPEAKER: I suspect that what you are saying is that there is confusion in the minds of people as to what they expect of NAADS and you would therefore like somebody with authority to come and explain what the people should expect of NAADS. Is that not really what you want?
MS BAKO: Thank you, Mr Speaker. I have explicitly tried to explain to this House that first and foremost, NAADS - Mr Speaker, you were here - came into existence as a result of an Act of this Parliament. It was called the National Agricultural Advisory Services Act, 2001. Now government is deviating from that Act to include things that are not within that mandate. Why is that being done before Parliament is consulted, before we amend the NAADS Act?
Two (Interruption)
THE MINISTER OF STATE FOR ANIMAL INDUSTRY (Maj. Bright Rwamirama): Mr Speaker, I have listened very carefully to my shadow minister and she is actually implying that government is deviating from the NAADS Act. To the best of my knowledge, we are bringing in efficiency. We want to make sure that people are accountable without changing the law. Is she in order to mislead the country and this House?
THE SPEAKER: She is making her assessment. Honourable, we have to understand what your problem is and the kind of assistance you need from one of us either from this side or the other side. That is why I am labouring to find out what exactly you want to be done.
MR FUNGAROO: Thank you very much, Mr Speaker. The information I would like to give is from Obongi. My colleague was talking about information regarding the shift to selected families instead of relying on groups, which is bringing conflict. From the date that information appeared in the papers, people started asking, Which family is going to be selected for assistance among the six? So, it is conflict based on the formula to be used. Why do we shift from the group format, where a group has members coming from a wider coverage, to a family?
Six families! How long are you going to take to cover the whole country? My information is about the conflict among the people.
THE SPEAKER: Hon. Member, there are two issues here: there is the Bonna Bagaggawale policy, which came during election of this current Parliament, and the law on NAADS which was enacted in the Seventh Parliament. You see, the two things are different. Maybe what you are complaining about is somebody using NAADS as an agency for carrying out the Bonna Bagaggawale programme. Dont you see the difference between the two? Let us get some information from hon. Kamuntu.
PROF. KAMUNTU: Thank you very much, Mr Speaker. Prosperity-for-All as a programme is very good both for the Government and the Opposition. It is prosperity for all and I have no doubt in my own mind that it is for all. You can even see that hon. Bako is very prosperous as a result of this programme.
The information I wanted to bring out, Mr Speaker, is that on the Order Paper, item No.7, there is a report to evaluate the National Agricultural Research Act 2005 and its impact on the performance of the Agricultural Research and Training Projects (ARTP) and how it is being implemented by the National Agricultural Research Organisation (NARO). Under this report, all these issues being raised are going to be responded to.
Finally, Prosperity-for-All is not in contradiction to NAADS. Not at all! It does not contradict NAADS but in fact enhances and promotes it. All it aims at is indeed the prosperity of the entire nation. The Prosperity-for-All programme takes on the first six families per parishes as a demonstration for the rest to emulate. It does not contradict anything. I would plead with the member and members on both sides of the House to embrace Prosperity for All. It is something you should embrace and welcome. Thank you very much.
MR SEBULIBA MUTUMBA (DP, Kawempe Division South, Kampala): Thank you, Mr Speaker. The honourable member who has brought up this problem has got a point. The National Agricultural Advisory Services comes from the other policy framework known as Poverty Eradication Action Plan (PEAP) from which PMA and NAADS came. The problem with Bonna Bagaggawale, which is good, is that it is not identified with the formation of the other policies or frameworks. It is as if government is coming in with an ad hoc approach to the entire thing that was laid out in these policy frameworks. So, there is a feeling that this ad hoc manner is intervening with the actual functioning of NAADS.
In NAADS for example, they were supposed to lay off the original agricultural extension workers but now they are going to use them. The Presidents letter said, Get them back on board. So this is where the contradiction comes in. There is an Act which is actually streamlining the operationalisation of NAADS and it was passed in the Sixth Parliament (Interruption)
MAJ. (RTD) RWAMIRAMA: Mr Speaker and honourable colleagues, I want to make some clarification. Whether we belong to the other side or this side, we should really uphold the spirit of nationalism. Having said that, the issue of extension workers is really a very serious one. We have extension workers in most of the sub-counties and people were contracting money for NAADS to people who did not have the know-how and were using our extension service providers to do the work. So what we did was that this money which is going out for nothing, instead of paying extension workers (Ms Aol rose_)- I am giving clarification as a minister of agriculture so please, let me finish.
Mr Speaker, the issue of terminating extension workers, which is being pushed by some of our donors, can really have far reaching consequences. The person telling you that we wanted to retire extension service providers and therefore we are going to use them is really misleading you. We are using money for NAADS; instead of hiring people, we are saving 50 percent to go to these people to do the job for which they are employed to do. It is not really that we are actually bringing something new. It is just efficiency in the system.
MR SEBULIBA MUTUMBA: I thank the minister for labouring, but he has not proved any point at all. The essence of bringing NAADS on board was to do away with the original agricultural extension workers, and it is in the books. What the honourable member is saying is that it is better for us to bring the books back and Parliament streamlines them so that the technocrats have a set path to follow.
Whatever we are doing right now, honourable minister, is ad hoc. We are not following what we passed in Parliament. They should bring all the laws and books regarding PEAP - PEAP has even expired - and we bring the so called new NAADS on board and then the technocrats can move chronologically. This should be done rather than making political statements and making technocrats look like liars when actually they are not liars. It is we, the politicians, who are interfering with the law we made ourselves.
Remember in the Seventh Parliament it was supposed to be a trail blazing project. Members came here and were asking, What about my county or what about my sub-county; why isnt it there or what criteria did you use? This happened and the thing became thin on the ground. What we should do is to get this policy and bring it here, streamline the law and let the technocrats work. Otherwise, what we are doing, honourable minister, is ad hoc.
MR TRESS BUCYANAYANDI (Independent, Bufumbira County South, Kisoro): Mr Speaker, allow me to at least put this issue in a technical context. The technical context is that in order for agriculture to move, there is what we call a triangle of technology transfer. At one end of the triangle, you have the farmer who is resilient and is willing to work for as long as he has shown profitability levels, and therefore we hold that as a constant. On the other end of the triangle, we have NARO - this one is also doing well. I think there is enough technological information available on the books to be able to allow the farmer to produce.
The third element which is of concern now is that one of extension work. The way it is now - and this is the major concern - is that this extension service or delivery system is not connecting the research information to the farmer to levels that are acceptable in order to propel agriculture forward. When it comes to this, then one can go into details to illustrate why it is not delivering the way it should.
If I am allowed to move a little further, as of now we are running a parallel extension service - the traditional one and the one of NAADS - which is in my view not necessary. We could have done better by using a unified extension approach.
The second element that is of concern is that the methods being used by NAADS are not technically acceptable. When you begin determining the number of farmers we want to use and you predetermine the method you want to use, like using groups, it is extremely wrong. In a technical setting, an extension worker is free to use the most appropriate extension method at a given moment because they are all useful and each reinforces the other. So, I think these are the issues about NAADS and the delivery system. I think there is need for a greater debate on this issue and maybe reshaping of that project. I thank you.
THE SPEAKER: Hon. Bucyanayandi, can I please ask you; which ministry is answerable for NAADS?
MR BUCYANAYANDI: The Ministry of Agriculture.
THE SPEAKER: Which ministry is answerable for Bonna Bagaggawale? (Laughter) I thought it had become a technical term. The reason I am asking this question is that I think we need two statements; one on the operation of NAADS from the minister responsible for NAADS and we need a statement on how Prosperity for All operates. The two ministers should come forward and make statements, which we will be able to debate and understand and be in a position to explain to our constituents.
PROF. OGENGA-LATIGO: Thank you, Mr Speaker. What is going on is just a manifestation of the need that my honourable colleague raised. We have been talking about the technical side of NAADS but the most crucial side is that under the Prosperity-for-All programme, we intend to spend about Shs 500 billion. It is a lot of money. If we spend it without technical preparation, without clear targets, without a clear management programme, what will happen? It will be like what happened with the money that we gave to people under Entandikwa. People ate the money, married, organised funeral rites and at the end of the day, nothing happened.
Agriculture is so central to the welfare of rural Uganda and to our economy, and it needs the money. It also needs the technical input to move it forward. What agriculture does not need is politics. Once you bring politics into the process, it is dead. It therefore becomes crucially important that we get statements from these two ministers as early as possible. They should give us a very clear exposition on what is being done vis--vis the framework that we have. What are we targeting? Where do we expect to go when we implement what we are proposing to do? We will debate that and when we do, we will probably find a clear way for this country. We all want investment in agriculture desperately but we do not want wrong investment in agriculture. We do not want that management of the process which has happened before.
When you look at this fundamentally, you are giving those rural households one million plus. In the first place, their problem is not money; the money you give them is going to be a very serious diversion unless the process of giving it is clear. We are also rushing these things; the technical people have even been called liars by ministers and they are the guys who are supposed to help you implement. Once they look at you and they know that you do not trust them, where will they end and whom are you going to recruit to implement?
Let this House take the concern of the shadow Minister of Agriculture seriously and let the House also take the suggestion you gave seriously. If possible, next week, the Minister of Agriculture and the minister in charge of Bonna Bagagawale should come here to make their statements and then we can debate this very exhaustively. The money involved is too much and the people involved are too many that we cannot afford to play politics with it. I thank you.
THE SPEAKER: I think we should end it that way - we get statements one from the Minister of Agriculture or NAADS and another one from Prosperity-for-All. One of the Prosperity-for-All people can say, I borrowed the services of NAADS; this can be stated, but let us know what we expect of each policy.
THE MINISTER OF STATE FOR HOUSING (Mr Werikhe Khafabusa): Mr Speaker, I request that we present this next week because we were actually finalising a few things.
THE SPEAKER: You have heard; there are certain issues which they want to sort out so let us give them more time. Let us adjust to allow the Minister of Health make a statement on Polio.
THE MINISTER OF HEALTH (Dr Stephen Mallinga): Thank you, Mr Speaker. Honourable members will recall that Uganda has been free from circulating Wild Polio Virus for over 12 years now. The last case of Wild Polio Virus was reported in 1996. Subsequently, Uganda was declared Polio free by the African Region Certification Committee in October 2006.
However, the Minister of Health regrets to inform the nation, through the honourable members, that a case of Wild Polio Virus has been confirmed in Amuru District; this was on the 25th of February this year. The purpose of this statement is to inform the honourable members about this unfortunate event after such a great achievement and action of our ministry to combat the spread of this outbreak.
The statement also seeks the necessary co-operation and support from the hon. Members of Parliament to ensure timely response and prevent further spread of this deadly virus.
Polio is an infectious disease caused by any of the three wild Poliomyelitis viruses: type I, II and III. The virus is transmitted through the oral-faecal route. A person gets Polio by drinking water or eating food which has been contaminated by the Polio virus faecal contamination. The Poliomyelitis disease commonly affects children who are less than five years of age although adults rarely get it as well. It presents itself with influenza-like symptoms of fever, pain or stiffness and weakness of the affected limb. Paralysis rapidly sets in within hours and complete paralysis, that is flaccid or floppy, within three days.
Only about one percent of all the infected children become paralyzed. Polio is preventable through vaccination with oral Polio vaccine.
The first cases of Polio isolates from Uganda were obtained in 1952, during the outbreaks which occurred in Masaka, Entebbe and Kampala districts. Those who are my age remember because one of the princesses of the Kabaka  one of the Kabakas daughters - was affected by this disease at that time.
In 1953, Polio type I and III were identified from Ugandan specimen in collaboration with Poliomyelitis Foundation in Johannesburg, South Africa. By 1967, all the three types of Polio viruses had been isolated and identified through the Round Table Polio Clinic of Mulago National Referral Hospital.
Two cases were reported in 1993, 13 cases in 1994, 10 cases in 1995 and 10 cases in 1996. 1996 is the last time we had a Polio outbreak in this country until last month.
A global Polio eradication initiative led by the World Health Organisation and other partners such as UNICEF, Rotary International, United States Centre for Disease Control and national governments have yielded fruits. Three main strategies have been adopted to achieve Polio eradication and these include: strengthening routine immunisation, supplementing immunisation, and surveillance. Globally, these efforts yielded fruits leading to eradication of indigenous Wild Polio Virus from all nations except four in the whole world  Nigeria, India, Pakistan and Afghanistan. The rest of the countries get imported cases from the above mentioned countries. In the African region, most countries that still have Polio get it from the strain in Nigeria, especially Northern Nigeria.
With initiation of National Immunisation Days (NIDs) in this country, launched in 1996, where all children who are under five years in the whole country are vaccinated at the same time with oral Polio vaccine, the disease was significantly controlled and Uganda saw the last confirmed case of Polio in 1996. Uganda went though a meticulous exercise of Polio free certification by the Independent African Region Certification Commission and in October 2006, this country was declared free of circulating indigenous Wild Polio Virus. This means that there was no indigenous Wild Polio Virus in Uganda including in reservoirs such as laboratories and water systems. However, the country was not free from the imported virus since all our neighbouring countries had not yet been declared polio free.
Due to active surveillance supported and co-ordinated by WHO, the Wild Polio Virus has been reported in the neighbouring countries as follows:
"  Amuru District in Uganda, a case was reported on the 25 February 2009.
"  Turkana District of Kenya, 07 February 2009.
"  Juba, South Sudan, 15 August 2008.
"  Miti-Murhesa District, DRC, 05 August 2008.
"  Rutchuru District, DRC, 24 March 2008.
"  Akobo District, South Sudan, 02 March 2008.
On confirmation of Wild Polio Virus in the neighbouring countries, the Ministry of Health made a response plan to vaccinate all children from 0-5 years in the districts bordering DRC and Sudan. This was carried out last year and we are going to carry it out even this year.
The existence of Wild Polio Virus in the neighbouring countries was enough rationale to threaten Ugandas Polio-free status and warrant a response. The districts where supplementary immunisation campaigns were conducted to prevent Polio importation are: Bushenyi, Kasese, Kisoro, Kabale, Ntungamo, Kanungu, Rukungiri, Mbarara and Bundibugyo. As I said, all the children under five years were vaccinated under the first phase with two rounds of oral Polio virus with an average of 95 percent coverage during the first round and in the second round 102 percent success was achieved, taking into account that the districts were bordering the neighbouring countries. So, the 102 percent can be explained that way.
The Ministry of Health conducted a second phase of Polio campaigns to cover an additional total of 18 districts making a total of 27, in addition to the nine initially covered, with an average coverage of 84 percent. You need about 80 percent coverage to prevent the spread of Polio. The additional 18 districts included: Isingiro, Kabarole, Kibale, Hoima, Buliisa, Nebbi, Arua, Koboko, Maracha, Yumbe, Moyo, Adjumani, Amuru, Gulu, Pader, Kitgum, Kampala and Wakiso. The criteria for selection of districts was those bordering DRC or South Sudan, or areas which were hosting refugees and having direct transit routes from Juba or the Congo.
In addition to supplemental immunisation campaigns, accelerated routine immunisation activities were conducted in Karamoja districts to prevent any importation from Kenya in the Turkana area. The districts covered were: Kaabong, Kotido, Moroto, Abim and Nakapiripirit. The objective of the accelerated activities was to boost routine immunisation in the region.
On the 3rd of January 2009, a 16-month-old child of Awer IDP camp, Lamogi sub-county, Amuru District, reported at Awer Health Centre III with a fever and chills after he failed to respond to treatment for Malaria by the community medicine distributor. The health centre staff started the child on injections of quinine thinking it was malaria. In addition, the health staff administered Polio, DPT Hep B and Hib and Measles vaccines as the child had not completed all the doses before his first birthday as recommended by the Ministry of Health.
The child thereafter developed paralysis of the left leg, which persisted until the 5th February when the mother took him to Lacor Hospital for more expert care. At Lacor Hospital, the examining doctor suspected Poliomyelitis and took a stool specimen, which he submitted for laboratory testing. The stool sample was immediately delivered to the Uganda Virus Institute, Entebbe where Wild Polio Type I was confirmed.
The sample was then sent to South Africa Regional Reference Laboratory for Polio diagnostics. On 25 February 2009, it was re-affirmed as Wild Polio Type I. The genotype of the virus was 99.56 percent linked to the one earlier isolated in Juba Town South Sudan confirming a recent importation of Polio from Juba into Uganda.
A team of experts was dispatched to Amuru District to conduct thorough investigations about the case, document possible causes and the lapses in the system that wound have led to the virus re-entering Uganda and work with the district authorities to close any loopholes.
The public has been alerted to ensure all children are taken to the nearest health facility to complete the immunisation schedule and get booster doses. The Ministry of Health has put in place measures to strengthen routine immunisation through streamlining vaccine and logistic supply to the districts to ensure no stakeouts, training of health workers and social mobilisation through village health teams.
I would like to emphasise that our team is going to start mass immunisations in Amuru District and we shall extend that immunisation to the border districts.
Mass vaccination to cover children under 5 years and 24 surrounding districts of Acholi, Lang, Karamoja, West Nile, Bunyoro Sub-region, that is Amuru, Gulu, Kitgum and Padre, Oyam, Lira, Dokolo, Amolator, and Apac, Nakapiripirit, Moroto, Kotido, Kaabong, Abim, Adjumani, Moyo, Yumbe, Koboko, Nyadri/Maracha, Arua, Nebbi, Masindi, Bulisa, Kibaale and Hoima. Vaccination in these districts will start from the 21st to the 23 March 2009.
Nakasongola, Luwero, Wakiso, Kampala, are being reassessed for possible inclusion in this response. This is a synchronised response with South Sudan, Kenya and DRC.
Mass vaccination in the remaining 55 districts of Uganda for children under 5 years, during the April Child Days, this will be combined with vaccination against measles, the administration of de-warming tablets against warms and also Vitamin A to prevent blindness.
Honourable members will remember that Uganda is a signatory to the 1988 World Health Assembly resolution No. 41.28 adopted for global poliomyelitis eradication.
Secondly, Uganda has already been declared polio free in 2006; any importation of Wild Polio Virus is a negation of this fundamental achievement and takes the country back.
Thirdly, if we do not move fast and the virus is allowed to re-establish itself in Uganda, it may cost the country ten times higher to eradicate it.
Fourthly, Polio causes morbidity among children. More importantly, Poliomyelitis causes permanent disability which negatively affects the productivity of the affected persons, cumulatively affecting the economy and quality of life of the citizens of Uganda.
Mr Speaker, I would like to appeal to the honourable members to support and cooperate in ensuring that the Wild Polio Virus does not spread beyond the affected districts. Honourable members are requested to actively mobilise their constituents to ensure that every child is fully immunised by the first birthday. You are also requested to mobilise our people to receive booster doses during the mass vaccination child days. I thank you very much.
THE SPEAKER: Thank you very much, hon. Minister.
THE SHADOW MINISTER FOR HEALTH (Dr Francis Epetait): Thank you, Mr Speaker, and I would like to thank the Minister of Health for coming up with this statement regarding the Wild Polio Virus. You will all recall that yesterday we had a screaming headline in the Monitor which stated that 7 million children in Uganda were at risk. In fact they put up a map showing about half of the country; specifically the Northern part of the country was affected.
We are also aware that faecal-oral transmission cannot be limited to Northern Uganda owing to the mobile nature of the local communities. I would therefore like to say that it is not only Northern Uganda at risk, but the whole country.
Mr Speaker, in the same article, it was disturbing to note that whereas WHO had raised a red flag about the re-emergence of Wild Polio Virus in Uganda, it is reported that a number of attempts were made to source for money from Ministry of Finance in order to under take emergency polio vaccination programme to avert the problem, but the money was not forthcoming.
My major problem is that it appears government took Wild Polio Virus re-emergency as a light threat owing to an earlier declaration by the African Regional Certification Committee just three years ago that Uganda was now polio free and therefore, we tended to sit back.
I remember in a number of fora, His Excellency, President Museveni, would even state that if you saw anybody who was suffering from Polio, or who was lame on account of Polio in Uganda, he must have been born during the UPC days. I remember those statements and I think those were not fair statements because I know that UPC did not import Polio. (Laughter) Now, who is responsible for this?
I think, let us all say, We should never relax. We should never relax because this is not affecting the Movement or any one particular party. It is affecting Ugandans.
Therefore, I would like to call upon the Ministry of Finance to style up. It is very dangerous for us to keep ignoring technical advice from technocrats. Alarm bells were rung but money was not forthcoming. In fact, hon. Minister, I am entirely in support of the very purpose of this statement calling upon Members to give the necessary cooperation to support the need for emergency response and timely response to prevent further spread.
But my humble fear right now is that whereas Amuru District is particularly cited as the most affected, you know people are so mobile. What are we going to do? I would like to propose, now that the minister stated here that there are child plus days due for April next month, that it would be prudent for us to immediately undertake mass vaccination of all our children using whatever we have now, rather than wait for child plus days in April. It is also stated that even what is currently being planned for may not be enough to solve some of the bureaucratic problems in the health system. I think Ministry of Finance should come to the aid of Ugandans.
I remember sometimes whenever we would complain about resource allocation to the Ministry of Health, Finance would think, Why is it only Health that wants everything? Other ministries also have problems. But we cannot risk our children dying and possibly getting lame on account of Polio.
So, dear colleagues, I also want to take this opportunity to call upon everybody, all parents, to take special interest when it comes to immunisation. Many times, I think most men are not vigilant in following the immunisation schedules of their children. It is important. These are facts. I am a man but I keep checking on the immunisation card of my children for the next schedule -(Interjections) yes, and I would like to call upon all of us to take up the challenge for the immunisation of our children. I thank you, Mr Speaker.
THE SPEAKER: We must congratulate you for the diligence you have. (Laughter)
DR MICHAEL BAYIGGA (DP, Buikwe County South, Mukono): Thank you, Mr Speaker. I would like to thank the minister for the statement, and also the response which has been given so far.
I am just concerned about the laxity of government in the way they would handle such serious issues. We know for sure that many people are at risk and that the screaming news headline yesterday, if at all I am not mistaken, is the cause of the response of the minister on the Floor of Parliament. The minister should own up.
We should get also from this statement whether what was said by Dr William Mbabazi of World Health Organisation that this Government had been notified way back about the risk is true or not. Today we are receiving this statement in response to press statements. Many of us were not aware about this.
Somebody should be held accountable for this kind of laxity which causes people to lose their lives and to become paralysed and so forth. Somebody must be held responsible for this and if at all such statements come, yes, we appreciate but what is the cause of the delay?
In this statement, the minister reports as if it was a finding of an official of Ministry of Health, a doctor. But World Health Organisation, which is not reflected in this statement, had found that the Wild Polio Virus had come back to Uganda but that is not reported in this statement.
What the minister should do is to give a statement to negate the statement of Dr William Mbabazi who notified this Government about the Wild Polio Virus which had come earlier. Thank you, Mr Speaker.
MR FRANK TUMWEBAZE (NRM, Kibale County, Kamwenge): Mr Speaker, thank you so much for giving me an opportunity. I also want to thank the minister for the statement. I met him in the lift yesterday and he assured me that he would give us a statement today.
But I think there are serious concerns we need to really ponder on further. He talked of synchronising similar programmes with the DRC and Southern Sudan Governments. I think we need to know in particular, and we should be interested to know, what Southern Sudan and DRC are doing in response because the population at risk in this epidemic is not only Uganda.
If you are told to define the population at risk, you would be wrong to say it is only the people at the borders because there is free movement of people. So, it is important that we pick interest in knowing whether the same interventions we are administering here are the same as those of Southern Sudan. Otherwise, we would be doing so in vain.
My second concern is that only one case has been detected. Does that mean we have only one case? Is the surveillance system of the ministry going to dig for more? There are many others who do not come out to the clinics. So, are we sure it is only one isolated case or there are many more others that may not have come to the clinic to be reported and therefore registered?
Finally, it has been reported in different medical journals, and actually many public health studies have confirmed, that there is a re-emergence, globally, of diseases that were thought to have been eradicated. Polio is one of them and so is Measles. There is a re-emergence. This is well known. How prepared is Uganda in terms of research, curative capacity and prevention programmes? How prepared are we for these changing global trends in the Health Sector? Today you could be talking of Polio, yet the Measles trend will go up tomorrow. You are still fighting with Hepatitis which is also a new disease.
So we would want to know your capacity in terms of research, surveillance and resources to appeal to everybody because when you talk of faecal-oral as the transmission route, you are telling people to change their behaviour and lifestyle. What you are saying is that our sanitation must improve. Now it is not only your role. That means that government must integrate all its planning to make sure that we change our lifestyle, that the mass media appeals to everybody and that the national water coverage increases. So it is a big effort 
DR CHRIS ASIIMWE (NRM, Ntoroko County, Bundibugyo): Thank you very much, Mr Speaker. I would like to thank the Minister of Health for the good statement.
I have my reservations regarding timeliness of response to epidemics in this country. The recommended time to respond to such an outbreak, if I may recall well, is six weeks. But I am surprised that when the Polio virus was mentioned in the DRC, it took the Ministry of Health three months to carry out vaccination in the districts along the border. Although the response is a bit timely now, it is not 100 percent timely.
What I am trying to say is that we still have a lot of problems regarding response to epidemics in this country. This does not only apply to Polio, but also other epidemics. You have heard of diseases like Cholera. The incubation period for Cholera is very short; two to four days. But when it has broken out in an area in this country, it takes even a week for Ministry of Health to mobilise and institute measures and beef up the district teams to control the epidemic in many places of this country.
One thing I must mention is that even if this Polio virus came to Uganda from Sudan or wherever, if our children were fully immunised, none of them would have got this virus. What does this show us? It shows us that most of our children out there are not accessing immunisation as it is supposed to be.
I come from a district with very few health facilities and I remember in the late 1990s and early 2000, we used to have immunisation outreaches. People would use bicycles and/or motorcycles to reach villages where there are no health facilities to immunise children. But currently as I speak, these outreaches have died out in most parts of my district. I remember very well when Ebola broke out in Bundibugyo, it took a lot of time to identify this virus and many people lost their lives including our health workers.
So, as much as government is doing some work to control epidemics in this country, there is still a lot that needs to be done. And when I hear from Ministry of Health, Ministry of Finance is partly to blame for the slow response to these epidemics due to the small budget that is allocated to the Ministry of Health, especially in response to epidemics. Thank you, Mr Speaker.
MR MICHAEL NYEKO (FDC, Kilak County, Amuru): Thank you, Mr Speaker. I must also thank the Minister of Health for coming up with this statement.
This area called Awer, where the case was reported, is in my constituency and I must confirm that in the initial days, there was adequate coverage because at that time almost everybody was in camp, and it was easy to reach out to the people. So, the coverage at that time was very, very adequate and total. Therefore when this issue came up that there was another case of Polio in that area, it was really perturbing to many of us.
I must say that the fact that that area borders Sudan, and given the fact that the health service delivery in Sudan is still very weak, I am convinced that that could be the reason why there has been re-emergence.
If you look at page 2, the districts which are affected in the different countries, you find that there is a certain belt which is being affected; from Turkana, you come to the districts of Uganda, the Southern Sudan and so forth. That would mean, Mr Minister, that any intervention which will not target this whole belt will not help at all. Could there be a possibility of the Government of Uganda talking to the Government of Southern Sudan and that of DRC Congo so that when we are immunising there should be total coverage in all these areas so that there cannot be re-emergence of Polio again in Uganda?
It was reported, as my colleague the Shadow Minister has said, that the Ministry of Health officials alerted government way back in August, that there was danger for re-emergence of Polio in Uganda but the problem has been the release of money from the Ministry of Finance.
If there was any take-home I had in the last Cabinet reshuffle was the removal of that Minister of Finance, because the Minister of Finance would not actually respond to the emergencies. We had a case, one time when there was hunger; people were dying of hunger in (Interruptions)
PROF. KABWEGYERE: Thank you, hon. Member for giving way. The Minister of Finance had a difficulty of addressing emergencies because in our budgeting we do not yet have a contingency fund to address emergencies. This loophole is being addressed and the Ministry of Finance alongside ourselves are preparing a Bill which will be coming soon so that in our budgeting we have a percentage of the budget that is put aside to address emergencies. So it was not just his fault; it was just because there was not an allocation to address emergencies.
MR NYEKO: Mr Speaker that is information which I was not privileged to get earlier. But what kind of government cannot budget for emergencies? Even in your family, at home, you always have to make some contingency plan for emergencies. So, if what the honourable minister is saying is correct, then the problem is government. What kind of government cannot budget for emergencies?
I brought this point out because I hope with the change of leadership in the Ministry of Finance there will be adequate response to handle the emergencies. Last time we had a problem in Karamoja where children were dying and elders were dying of hunger but money could not be released to purchase food. Today we have heard again that the Minister of Finance could not release money to contain Polio in that part of the country where the Polio had been. So, I hope with the change of leadership this time, there is going to be a real change in the management of the finances of this country.
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