Museveni assents to the regional HIV/Aids bill
Posted Thursday, March 21 2013 at 09:38
Activists demand that Ugandan Parliament emulates regional law
President Museveni has assented to the HIV/Aids regional Bill, 2010, which seeks to prevent and manage the spread of HIV/Aids and to promote human rights of persons living with the disease.
The East African Community HIV and Aids Prevention and Management Bill, 2010, was proposed by former Ugandan representative Lydia Wanyoto. It is aimed at mandating partner states to play a key role in controlling and managing the deadly disease.
The bill now mandates partner states to provide HIV/Aids related services, guarantee the right to privacy of people living with HIV/Aids and prohibiting HIV-related discrimination and ensuring the provision of quality health care and social services for persons living with HIV and their care-givers.
East Africa has about 5 million people living with HIV/Aids. The president of Kenya and Uganda have assented to the Bill that is awaiting being signed by the other East Africa Community heads of state to become a binding law in the region.
The bill mandates partner states to promote utmost safety and universal precautions in practices and procedures that carry the risk of HIV transmission.
The Uganda Network on Law, Ethics and HIV/Aids in unison with civil society HIV/Aids rights’ activists, the key stakeholders in the Bill during a press conference in Kampala on Wednesday hailed President Museveni on the move .They, however, urged Parliament to domesticate the regional legislation they said has the best practices.
“In the Ugandan HIV/Aids Prevention Bill, the role of the state is hazy because it puts the burden of responsibility from the government to the HIV/Aids patients yet the state has a major mandate to ensure the patients are taken well care of,” said Mr Leonald Okello, a member of UGANET.
The HIV/Aids Prevention and Control Bill, 2010, currently before the Parliamentary HIV/Aids Committee among others, suggests the criminalisation of the intentional spread of the disease, forced testing and disclosure of one’s status.
The Bill, has however, been rejected by local and international human rights activists who argue that that it promotes discrimination of people living with the disease and may affect the gains the country has made in combating the scourge.
“The criminalization, forced disclosure and compulsory testing is not in the tenure of what President Museveni has assented to .Our Ugandan legislators must emulate the EAC law that has excluded such proposals in their Bill,” Ms Dora Kiconco, UGANET Executive Director, said.
Maj. Rubaramira Ruranga said the EAC Bill legislates against criminalization of those living with the disease.
“I am sure the EAC law will change the Ugandan chapter. Let our MPs make a good law which will be relevant to the people who want to use it,” he warned.