Prioritise access to healthcare for all

The State Minister for Primary Healthcare, Ms Margaret Muhanga (centre) with other officials at the commissioning of  a cold room at Fort Portal Regional Referral Hospital on January 5, 2023. PHOTO/ALEX ASHABA

What you need to know:

  • The issue: Healthcare
  • Our view: Let us ensure that all people who need medical care are able to see their doctors without worrying about being mistreated, harassed, or denied service outright. 

The past week saw an uproar in Parliament over allegations that Kasese District officials were promoting homosexuality. Deputy Speaker Thomas Tayebwa criticised  Kasese officials, saying  the by-law that they were allegedly attempting to enact to recognise homosexuals and transgender people as minorities contravene the national laws.  

The development came against the backdrop of concerns raised by Mr Tayebwa over the deterioration of morals in schools. 

The Deputy Speaker said he was getting “painful stories” about school children being forced into homosexuality. But several Kasese officials have denied the allegations. 

The Human Rights Advocacy and Promotion Forum (HRAPF), the NGO accused of pushing for the alleged by-law to be enacted,  has also distanced itself from the circulating document that had stirred the waters. 

HRAPF officials argued that supporting non-discriminatory access to HIV services and related health services is not in itself a promotion of homosexuality.  

Let us all be clear on this. Sexual exploitation, violating minors’ rights and forcing others into sexual conduct without their consent must be condemned by all of us and culprits should be brought to book. 

The institutions mandated with keeping law and order must thoroughly investigate such incidents and ensure justice for the victims and survivors of such heinous acts.  

However, our leaders should distance themselves from making sweeping statements that further alienate key populations from enjoying their fundamental human rights such as access to healthcare. Criminalising and bashing key populations further pushes them into hiding and eventually hinders their access to healthcare such as HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases treatment, yet their engagement in sexual acts is continuous.

Section 39 of the Local Government Act stresses the strengthening of access to HIV/TB services in health facilities for key populations. 

The Constitution stipulates that the State should ensure that all Ugandans enjoy opportunities and access to health services by ensuring provision of medical services. 

Uganda is also signatory to international conventions on human rights, which have a bearing on health rights and the right to health as enshrined in the WHO constitution of 1948.  

The issue of homosexuals in our society is a sensitive and controversial one and needs to be handled with care. Due to the existing legal framework and societal norms, many still exist in hiding. 

Let us ensure that all people who need medical care are able to see their doctors without worrying about being mistreated, harassed, or denied service outright. 


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