A team of development partners in the health sector have proposed to Parliament to include quarantine centres in the Public Health (Amendment) Bill, 2021 currently being processed by the Committee on Health.
The health partners who were represented by officials from World Health Organisation (WHO) and the British Council, said the Public Health Act in its current state, does not cater for a range of issues that have emerged in the sector since the bill’s enactment 87 years ago.
In consideration of the concern, the partners urged the health committee during a meeting held on Monday, 28 February 2022, to provide for quarantine centres in the bill which they said are now critical in health management as observed in the management of COVID-19 cases.
“We propose inclusion of quarantine centres in the bill as not all isolation and quarantine will be maintained at the hospital as currently stated in the Public Health Act” said Dr Salome Okware, Surveillance officer at WHO.
The committee chairperson, Dr Charles Ayume, guided that his committee will endeavour to consult about quarantine centres as some areas that served as isolation centres for COVID-19 cases did not meet standards.
”The quarantine centres must be qualified – for people’s homes to qualify as quarantine centres, they have to be well defined and quantified if we are to talk about them in the new bill,” said Ayume.
Kabale Municipality MP, Dr Nicholas Kamara, said the bill should not only cater for quarantine centres but also Intensive care unit centres saying their relevance was more pronounced in the management of COVID-19.
He also noted that the bill should take cognisance of different facilities used as isolation centres during the management of COVID-19.
“The current law states that someone with an infectious disease should only be nursed in the hospital, yet we have had many areas where we have isolated people other than the hospital; we have village health teams, we have had home based care so it is important that we put quarantine centres in this amendment” said Dr Kamara.
The health partners also proposed that the bill should harmonise mandates of different entities of government in public health rather than leaving the burden to the Ministry of Health.