Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The Deputy Speaker of Parliament Anita Among has directed the Ministry of Health to make a statement on the status of COVID-19 testing services at the Entebbe International Airport.
Last week, President Yoweri Museveni launched government’s COVID-19 laboratories for mandatory testing of all passengers arriving through the airport, taking over from Test and Fly and Safari laboratories.
“As of today, Test and Fly are still carrying out tests. I want you to come with a write up, how you acquired Test and Fly. Why is government not carrying out testing after taking over? Why do we have two service providers?” Among asked.
She added that the ministry should also clarify on how long returning travelers take at the airport waiting for their results.
“They test them, keep them there and yet the results are going to be sent on phone, why don’t you allow them to go? We want to help Ugandans. For us to ask you for a report we are helping your ministry to work,” Among said.
She added that a team from Parliament will visit the airport to monitor the situation.
The Deputy Speaker’s directive follows a matter of national importance raised by Kasilo County MP, Elijah Okupa, who said that travelers congest the airport as they are subjected to long hours of waiting for their test results.
“What happened yesterday, people’s samples were taken and they were made to wait for eight hours for their results. People are crowded and this encourages spread of the virus,” Okupa said.
He added that whilst the economy is struggling to recover from the effects of COVID-19, actions by officials carrying out tests at the airport will scare away tourists.
“When they get this type of treatment, I think we shall take time to recover economically. Let us have a human face when we are handling this matter,” he said.
Alex Byarugaba, Isingiro South MP narrated his ordeal where he was forced into an old and dirty vehicle and taken to a squalid room without toilet facilities for testing. He waited four hours for his results.
“Even after agreeing to the mandatory testing, I was shoved by armed men. I even pulled out my vaccination card and pleaded with them that I am a law abiding citizen. It is such a terrible situation and it needs to be addressed,” he said.
Kampala Central Division MP Muhammad Nsereko, urged government to emulate other countries with better service.
“We have traveled to other countries and we have seen the procedure and it is either you test me rapidly and you give me my results within 20 or 30 minutes, or you refer me to my residence and send me my results,” said Nsereko.
Patrick Nsamba tasked the ministry to further report on the utilisation of funds allocated for port health laboratories. “When the minister is coming, she should report on the establishment of port health facilities at all borders and the airport. We expected to have a state of the art laboratory at the airport,” he said.
The Minister of State for Health (General duties), Anifa Kawooya, informed the House that Ministry of Health officials were sent to the airport on a fact finding visit and a report will be presented to Parliament next week.
SOURCE: UGANDA PARLIAMENT MEDIA