By Frank Kamuntu
The Ugandan Parliament has today kick-started its annual fundraising walk under a theme; ‘Building a strong democracy in Uganda’, as one of the activities of the Parliamentary week, an event which started today Monday January 20, 2020.
The Parliamentary Walk is aimed at raising funds to construct a rehabilitation and community centre for persons with albinism in Uganda that will host a specialized medical facility and a training centre.
The event that was flagged off by the Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga led by the Police band, which motivated walkers with melodious tunes that gave parliamentarians energy and zeal to cover the 4km from Parliament through Kampala and back.
Parliament through the annual charity walk hopes to raise shs 5bn for construction of a community and rehabilitation centre for people with albinism.
However, Dr. Olive Namutebi, the president Albinism Association, says they are concerned with limited access to treatment for conditions associated with albinism basing on the recent study conducted in 10 districts, which found out that 72 persons had an issue with eyesight but only 2% had received treatment.
While at the same event, the Albino Association of Luwero pleaded with all Government bodies to join Parliament in advocating for their wellbeing, since persons with albinism say they still face widespread marginalization amidst costly equipment required to mitigate the effect of sunlight.
Several Ugandans and organisations contributed to the cause as aligned below with the following pledges: Uganda Muslim Council contributed Shs5m, Office of the Leader of the Opposition contributed Shs5m, Busoga Parliamentary Group also contributed Shs3m, Department of Research contributed Shs2.5m and also Office of the Clerk contributed Shs30m.
For the above reason, the Speaker said she is concerned that despite an earlier recommendation to scrap taxes on sunscreens and other equipment that aid persons with albinism mitigate health conditions, the taxes haven’t practically been removed.
Furthermore Government Chief Whip, Ruth Nankabirwa, revealed that she will be the champion for Albino causes in Cabinet, adding that she will see to it that taxes on sunscreens which persons with albinism find costly are scrapped, and promised a contribution of Shs1m.
People with albinism in Uganda face several challenges, such as low vision, sun damage resulting in skin cancer, widespread discrimination often resulting from ignorance about the cause of the condition, plus people who hunt them for witchcraft purposes.