The Minister of State for Relief, Disaster Preparedness and Refugees Hon Musa Ecweru on Tuesday told reporters that perishable food that is donated by well-wishers to be distributed to vulnerable people affected by Government measures to contain the spread of COVID 19 will be given to frontline health workers tackling the pandemic.
This comes just weeks after frontline medical workers asked Government for relief food, risk allowances and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).
On April 12th, the medical workers under their umbrella body, the Uganda Medical Workers Union (UMWU) said they were fully engaged in tackling COVID 19 and couldn’t involve in other activities.
“We would like to remind Government that health workers are some of the least paid workers in civil service. Given that they are now fully engaged at frontline full time, there is therefore no time and opportunity to engage in other activities to augment their source of livelihood. We therefore urge Government to consider relief aid (food) for health workers who need it,” said UMWU General Secretary Aggrey Sanya
On Tuesday, Minister Ecweru said that donated perishable food will rather be given to medical workers at the frontline tackling COVID 19 pandemic.
“For perishables, we are going to send them to the medical staff that are on the frontline and then the orphanages. We don’t want to keep them in our stores. If you are kind to bring us let’s say matooke, we shall accept it, if you bring us eggs we will accept it but we will not keep it for long. We have people who are really doing everything they can to make sure this disease is conquered, the nurses, the medics. So we have discussed with medical superintendents of different hospitals so that they will be receiving these perishables to support their staff so that they have commitment to do the job they are doing,” Ecweru told reporters at Uganda Media Center on Tuesday.
On the other hand, Ecweru noted that small holder farmers with good quality food suitable for human consumption will be able to get in touch with Government so that they can supply their food to Government.
Ecweru said some provisions in PPDA (Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Assets Authority) Act will be bent to allow small scale holder farmers supply Government.
“The country should know that there are small holder farmers across the country who have not been in this business of supplying Government. For obvious reasons, I think they thought they didn’t have the capacity so they didn’t have access to what they call pre-qualification in Government. So, what the Government did was to work with the office of the Attorney General, work with PPDA to see in this emergency situation, can we bend that provision for pre-qualification and we decided to bend the law without breaking it,” said Ecweru.
He added, “We have now invited the small people (small holder farmers) who have their beans, they can be in Kiryandongo, they can be in Lira, they can be in Tororo, to supply and I am happy to report to the country that the small holders have brought cleaner beans than even the big groups, their beans are very clean, they are good for human consumption. It’s now an eye opener. From now onwards, those country people will be allowed to formalize their work with Government so that when we need food, they will always be activated and they supply food. So, if you know anyone who has good beans, still I need them, activate them and they will come to Government.”
He however emphasized quality saying that the food must be of high quality and fit for human consumption.
He said any supplied food will be put under check by standards body, Uganda National Bureau of Standards (UNBS).