Parliament Week 2018 kicked off Sunday with an estimated Shs 75 million raised in cash and pledges towards the establishment of a centre for people living with albinism in Uganda.
The funds were raised during the Charity walk flagged off by the Speaker of Parliament, Rebecca Kadaga, on Sunday.
The charity walk was part of the several activities to mark this year’s Parliament Week which runs from January 21-25, 2018. Participants including Members of Parliament and the general public were led by the Speaker and the Leader of the Opposition, Winifred Kiiza. They walked from Parliament Building into the city centre and back to the starting point.
Kadaga urged MPs to prioritise the debate on Albinism when House resumes. She noted that although the Constitution clearly states the right to health, there is no enabling law that addresses the issue of people living with albinism.
“The time is now to stand up for those who have no voice, let us be their voice and ensure that we have that debate, and come up with resolutions,” she said.
She directed the Clerk to Parliament to ensure that relevant ministries including that of Health, Justice and Constitutional Affairs and Education and Sports participate in next year’s charity walk, arguing that they play an important role in addressing the issues of People living with albinism.
The Speaker also revealed that the Parliamentary Commission will be implementing a decision to employ people living with albinism.
“I am happy to report that last year, I made a pledge that we shall employ people living with albinism; this year, we shall employ at least one person living with albinism in Parliament,” Kadaga said.
The People living with Albinism applauded Parliament for providing them with a platform to address their grievances.
The Executive Director of the Association of People Living with Albinism, Jude Ssebyanzi appealed to Kadaga as Speaker of Parliament to ensure that skin cancer and sunscreen are included in the current draft Cancer Policy. He said that due to the omission of sunscreen in the Cancer Policy, it is categorised under cosmetics, making it costly.
“The current Cancer Policy is worse than Ebola for people living with albinism because it doesn’t mention skin cancer which is affecting persons with albinism, as a result, people with albinism are dying of skin cancer,” said Ssebyanzi.
He said that the Universal Primary Education, Universal Secondary Education and Special Needs programs are discriminatory.
“These programs do not cater for people with albinism and as a result, teachers do not know how to handle us and this has led to high school drop out of people with albinism,” said Ssebyanzi.
There are 375,000 people living with albinism in Uganda. As such, Parliament started a Charity walk last year to fundraise for establishment of a centre for people living with albinism which saw Shs 35 million raised. The plan to establish the centre for persons living with albinism is a five year project.
Ofificials from the Office of the Prime Minister, Foreign Affairs and Health. Government Departments and Agencies were also represented and these included; Uganda National Bureau of Standards, National Housing Corporation, Bank of Uganda, Kampala Capital City Authority and National Forestry Authority attended the function.
Represented of UMEME, Barclays Bank, Centenary Bank, Bank of Baroda, Diamond Trust Bank, Bank of India, Tropical Bank, ABC Bank, Bank of Baroda, Equity Bank, GTBank, Jomayi Housing Estates, AAR insurance and UAP insurance participated.
Uganda Joint Christian Council also participated in the charity walk as well as the media. Four universities-Makerere University, Kyambogo University, Uganda Christian University, Victorious University and the East African University also participated.
An ecumenical thanksgiving service is slated for today and departments in the Parliamentary Service Commission will be exhibiting their services in the Parliament South Wing.