The Speaker of Parliament, Rebecca Kadaga has called on the Ministry of Health to close all government health facilities without toilets, saying the current state of hygiene and sanitation in health centers is promoting sickness.
Kadaga made this call while opening the first ever parliamentary symposium on Water and Sanitation held at Parliament on Friday, 15 November 2019.
Kadaga said she was disgusted to learn that 85% of government health centers in Uganda do not have latrines which puts the health of patients at a higher risk of contracting serious diseases.
“If 85% of government health facilities do not have toilets, we should close them, we should not create a crisis in the country, close them then government will wake up,” said Kadaga.
The Speaker said she was disturbed that just like it is the case with latrine coverage, Uganda is grappling with low levels of water coverage, calling on Ministry of Water and Environment to refrain from painting a wrong picture of a higher coverage in the country.
“I want to ask Ministry of Water to stop talking about the 79% water coverage, I have spent the last 4 years providing water in Kamuli district, I have moved in Karamoja, the percentage is about 45, be sincere and we shall help you,”Kadaga said.
She cited instances in her constituency where water shortage had become the source of domestic violence and a risk factor for child pregnancies. Kadaga said men were habitually beating their wives for spending more time while fetching water from long distances, while children were getting raped on long journeys searching for water.
Kadaga urged legislators on Parliamentary Forum on Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) to Interest themselves in budgetary allocations for water and sanitation in the next financial year, urging them to fight for increased funding.
The chairperson Parliamentary Forum on Water, Sanitation and Hygiene, Hon Jaqueline Amongin (NRM, Ngora district) reiterated the forum has in response to poor sanitation indicators, prepared a private member’s bill on menstrual health and hygiene to urge government to commit to issues of menstrual health and hygiene.
The Commissioner for Environmental Health, Dr. Julian Komuhangi, said the country is generally performing poorly in a range of sanitation and hygiene indicators, citing districts which are still practicing open defecation.
“Today we are talking about health care facilities but there are alarming findings in other sectors, if you go to schools, students in high learning institution are using hands to write on the walls, writing obscene words using shit,” said Komuhangi.
The Parliamentary symposium on water and sanitation was organized by Parliament’s Forum on Water, Sanitation and Hygiene in partnership with Ministry of Health, Ministry of Water and Environment, donor agencies including UNICEF and development partners implementing WASH programs.