Any Ugandan found spitting in public could spend a year behind bars or pay a Ush3 million (about $830) fine if proposed changes to the Public Health law are okayed.
According to legislators, the Public Health (Amendment) Bill, 2021, seeks to curb the habit that is deemed dangerous following the risk of spreading diseases.
The fresh proposal seeks to amend the Public Health Act that bars spitting in public places or vehicles, save for receptacles provided for that purpose.
The Bill was tabled before the Ugandan Parliament last month and is under scrutiny by the Health Committee.
So far, doctors are opposed to the changes, arguing that spitting is a biological function in response to the disease present in someone’s body.
Via their lobby, Uganda Medical Association, they informed MPs that the state ought to provide sanitary and hygiene facilities in public spaces as an option B.
“Individuals are also mandated to take care of public health, we should not spit anywhere in public, but that shouldn’t stop us from spitting.”
“Public transport service providers should provide receptacles. Some patients use public means of transport, so should they stay home and die?” Dr Herbert Luswata, the association’s secretary-general, posed.
At the same time, the medics also oppose a proposal by the government to impose fines on individuals who refuse to get vaccinated against Covid-19.
In February, Uganda announced plans to impose fines on people who refuse to be vaccinated against COVID-19. Those who fail to pay the fines could be sent to prison under a new public health law in which lawmakers are scrutinizing.
Despite the East African country starting to administer COVID-19 jabs nearly a year ago, only about 16 million jabs have been administered in a population of 45 million, with officials blaming widespread reluctance for the low coverage.
The fresh law proposes a fine of 4 million Ugandan shillings ($1,139) for those who fail to get vaccinated.