In the midst of the push to get every Ugandan Vaccinated, the government has tabled an amendment to the Public Health Act. The Public Health (Amendment) Bill 2021, among others seeks to make vaccination mandatory and also introduces a fine of Ugx 4,000,000 or imprisonment of six months or both for failure to comply.
This is unfortunate as one wonders whether there will be an end with prosecution. We cannot achieve massive vaccination by threatening to imprison Ugandans who have failed to do so and Uganda will be the firs country to criminalize vaccination. It is important that the masses are well educated and sensitized about the vaccination so that they can make informed decisions and consent to the vaccination.
Be that as it may, forceful vaccination undermines the human rights-based approach in dealing with management of pandemics, epidemics and other outbreaks. One wonders, if one has served their jail time, what happens to them and the community? Will they be re-arrested for failure to vaccinate and wait till trial to plead the defence of double jeopardy? This amendment is in bad taste and as such should be dropped.
We should devise other means and incentives to have Ugandans vaccinated other than criminalizing their choice, for this will be detrimental to the universal human rights standards! This is therefore to call upon the Health committee and the Parliament at large to reject this provision and such others that violate the basic human rights such as the right to privacy including data privacy. We can still fight disease using the human rights based approach!
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