PARLIAMENT: Speaker after speaker blamed government for failure to institute policies that would protect the rights of albinos, a group of minorities whose lives are at risk both environmentally and by social injustice.
The criticism was made at CHOGM Gardens near Parliament where lawmakers led by Speaker Rebecca Kadaga staged a fundraising campaign to collects money for the construction of a one-stop centre for the albino community in Uganda.
Ms Kadaga instructed her deputy Jacob Oulanyah (NRM-Omoro County) to put government to task to undertake measures to protect the albinos.
“Find a way to remove what they call cosmetics to become a drug to be supplied by the government of Uganda as well as the sunscreens as a starting point to help our people in this category,” Ms Kadaga said.
A bottle of 30ml cream sunscreen costs between Shs70,000 and Shs90,000 which is way expensive to most of the victims of albinism.
The campaign which kicked off activities to mark the Parliament week raised Shs40 million from sections of the public, parliament and media houses.
Once complete, the centre will house an administrative block, a medical facility, Vocational Training Centre for albinos as well an ICT Centre and hostels for albinos and volunteers.
The Speaker also faulted government for the absence of an enabling policy for the albino community despite several challenges they face.
“We need to do a lot and not only running. Their needs are very much compounded,” said Ms Kadaga.
To ignite the inclusion and recognition of the albino community, the Speaker instructed Ms Jane Kibirige, the Clerk to Parliament to come up with a vacancy, specifically ring-fenced for albinos.
Uganda is estimated to have about 15,000 albinos with the numbers increasing along with the general population.
Ms Olivia Namutebi 25, an albino working with Africa Albino Foundation Uganda said the centre would help give shelter to the many albinos who have been evicted from their homes due to different reasons.
She also urged the public to not to be gulled by myths that albinos don’t die, bring wealth and that they have healing powers for HIV/AIDs and other diseases.
“That is unthinkable, we have no such powers, we are humans like you and we need to be protected,” said Ms Namutebi.
Mr Oulanyah asked members of parliament to compel government and also enact policies that would support the albino while at the same time uplifting their standards of living.
“We need to review policies, we need to review the laws and we need to look at our budget and see how we can allocate some resources to deal with this particular problem,” he said.
The Deputy Speaker said the lawmakers should not simply sit and wait for government but rather exploit advantages created by the budgeting process currently underway and create safeguards for albinos.
“Let us see what we can do…we may not do all they need but certainly, the little thing we can do, let us do it,” Mr Oulanyah said.
Ms Winnie Kiiza, the Leader of Opposition in parliament pledged to rally opposition support both within and outside parliament for the cause.
The parliament week which ends on February 10, will also raise funds for the purchase of reusable sanitary towels for the girl child in Northern Uganda.