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Uganda Moves To Outlaw The Trade In Human Organs

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Uganda health ministry has presented a bill pertaining to illegal organ donation and the regulation of safe organ transplantation to the parliament. The bill has been issued owing to the various cases of illicit organ transplantation reported in the last few months.

Under this bill, individuals involved in illegal organ transplantation and harvesting would be subject to a life sentence and a penalty of up to 2 billion shillings.

What Is The Bill About?

The Uganda Human Organ Donation and Transplant Bill 2021 emphasizes the establishment of proper organ transplantation centers in the country and safeguarding the dignity of organ donors. Before the passing of the bill, many Ugandans had to travel abroad to India, Kenya, or South Africa to have their transplant surgery.

By setting up organ transplant centers in Uganda, the medical bills and trip costs would reduce up to $25,000. The bill states that voluntary organ transplantation would be witnessed by at least two adults, one of which should be a close relative.

Objectives Of The Bill

Some of the objectives postulated in the bill are:

  • Establishment of Uganda Organ and Transplant Council to oversee the regulation of organs.
  • Establishment of organ banks and safe distribution of organs, cells, and tissues.
  • Creating a database of the information of donors and recipients and designation of Mulago National Referral Hospital as the pioneer transplant center.

Illicit Organ Transplantation In Uganda

In the last few months, many illicit organ transplant cases have been reported in Uganda. These cases are mostly of migrant workers working abroad in the Middle East who have been subjected to illegal organ transplantation. Many workers return home to find scars on their abdomen and their organs allegedly harvested or sold without consent.

Uganda Health Minister Dr. Jane Ruth Aceng stated in a press conference that the bill aims to regulate the donation of cells, organs, and tissues and to address the issues of illicit organ trade in the country.

Over 100,000 Ugandans have been employed in the Gulf States. Many of them are lured by companies by promising them job security by leaving Uganda and getting employed in the Gulf States, where they are subject to illegal organ transplantation.

Milly Nammazi, who has worked in Saudi Arabia since 2019, was sent to Egypt in 2021 after the expiration of her contract. She passed away in Egypt, and the autopsy report revealed that her kidney had been removed. Judith Nakintu, another employee working in Saudi Arabia, reported how her employer made her visit the hospital to get the Covid-19 vaccination.

She became unconscious at the hospital table and spotted scars on her lower abdomen the next day. She asked everyone about what had happened, but no one gave her a solid answer. A CT scan in Uganda revealed that her left kidney had been removed.

Dr. Jane Ruth also stated that the parliamentary committee for health led by Dr. Charles Ayume should emphasize the passing of the bill to speed up the process. Dr. Charles Ayume also wants the availability of medical services in the country so that Ugandans can get their required surgeries locally.

Keeping the recent illicit organ transplantation into consideration, the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Immigration has announced that it will check the organs of people traveling out of the country for employment.

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