December 6, 2021

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MPs want free drugs for diabetes, hypertension patients

Hon Kinshaba Patience Nkunda (Woman MP Kanungu)

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Legislators have passed a motion urging government to prioritise investment in Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) and also provide free drugs to Ugandans ailing from them.

Kanungu Woman MP, Hon Patience Nkunda, in moving the motion, advocated for provision of free drugs to Ugandans suffering from diabetes and high blood pressure.

Raising on Rule 60 (5) of the Rules of Procedure, the Butambala Woman Representative, Hon Asha Aisha Nalule, proposed for an amendment of the motion to widen the scope not only to diabetes and high blood pressure but all NCDs and more research done on the same.

Nkunda who agreed to the amended motion, noted that in Uganda the burden of NCDs was steadily rising amidst a high prevalence of communicable diseases stretching the health care system.

“The burden of the disease is expected to double for both diabetes and high blood pressure by 2021 and 2035 respectively,” she said.

She added that government needed to provide free screening and treatment for retinopathy, which causes blindness, free blood lipid control to regulate cholesterol levels and provide screening for early signs of diabetes-related kidney disease and treatment.

Tororo Municipality MP, Hon Apollo Ofwono, while seconding the motion, said that the medication for diabetes and high blood pressure is very expensive.

“In some cases, the drugs are not even available. Let government take over through the National Medical Stores to provide these drugs free of charge,” he added.

Hon Asuman Basalirwa (JEEMA, Bugiri Municipality) said that many ailments should be considered as they too fall in the category of NDCs.

“Some of these Non-Communicable Diseases can be avoided through regular exercise and proper dieting. As we urge government, we need to sensitise ourselves on the need to live health lifestyles,” Basalirwa said.

Hon Emmanuel Ongiertho Jor (FDC, Jonam County) said that he was in support of the motion and that the health insurance policy should roll out to help solve some of these issues.

“A health insurance policy for the whole country should have taken effect by now – and the elderly would be covered then we would not be having this motion here,” he said.

Buwekula South MP, Hon William Museveni, said that national policies should be introduced and the leaders should take lead in implementing these policies.

“We should introduce a national physical exercise policy. This will go a long way in addressing the issue of Non-Communicable Diseases,” he said.

Hon Santa Alum, (UPC, Oyam Woman Rep.), said that the government should look at increasing the doctors and equipment at the health centre IIs.

“Most of the NDCs, are lifestyle diseases that can be avoided. If we have a national wide which spells out what needs to be done, awareness we can be able to address this issues from the grassroots,” Santa Said.

Hon Milton Muwuma (NRM, Kigulu County South), said that the annual Parliament Health Week would be a good platform to educate the public about the NDCs.

“During our annual health week here at Parliament, we should see to it that we include Diabetes and Hypertension as some of the ailments the public should be educated on. We focus on cancer and HIV/AIDS. Could we interest ourselves on popularising how to prevent NCDs?” he said.

Minister of State for Industry, Hon David Bahati, said that the motion to provide free health care services to patients with NCDs has been addressed at the right time.

“The big task is prevention. We have free one hour airtime on radios to talk about government programmes and I urge you to use this to talk about NCDs, especially the preventive side,” he said.

Chief Opposition Whip, Hon John Baptist Nambeshe, made an appeal for free radio airtime for health workers to sensitise the public about NCDs.

“It should not be a preserve of Resident District Commissioners. It should be an exercise conducted by technical people to sensitise the public about prevention,” Nambeshe said.

Speaker Jacob Oulanyah presided over the House.

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