By PATRICK JARAMOGI
KAMPALA, Uganda [SHIFTMEDIA] The taste of the meal that was served to teachers at Mother Kevin Primary School in Mukono wasn’t pleasant one particular day. One concerned teacher, Betty Nalunkuuma took upon herself to find out why the taste of the food was depreciating day- in-day-out. Determined further, she and other teachers stormed the staffroom and confronted the welfare teacher, and cook (Nalongo).
The cook feeling ashamed and sensing danger from the seething teachers admitted that of late, the welfare teacher has been giving her Kimbo vegetable fat to fry the staff beans.
The teachers demanded to have a look at one of the used Kimbo tins, to their surprise, they noticed that the Kimbo that was being used had expired some two years ago in 2021. The culprit, the welfare teacher, who happens to own a retail shop in Kiwanga where she resides apparently decided to collect all the expired Kimbo cans from her shop that she stocked to fry the teachers’ beans.
Backed with the evidence, the enraged teachers promised to cause hell, until the expired Kimbo was destroyed. They opened the storage box, unearthed more expired Kimbo cans that they destroyed, prompting the welfare teacher to buy fresh cooking oil for the teachers.
Such scenarios are just tip of the iceberg, thousands of such cases remain un-reported, and even if they are reported, the victims remain unpunished, though what they are doing is criminal and Ugandan’s laws. In Uganda, non-communicable diseases (NCDs) represent an increasingly significant burden of ill health and death, accounting for 33% of all deaths. The number of Ugandans living with NCDs has been increasing drastically and the probability of one dying between the ages of 30-70 years from NCDs is 21%.
David Kabanda the Executive Director Center Center for Food and Adequate Living Rights (CEFROHT) notes that the rise of non-communicable diseases has become a global issue with high numbers of deaths registered worldwide standing at over 41 million annually.
Kabanda who was speaking at the media training on regulatory and fiscal frameworks to promote healthy diets supported by International Development Law Organization (IDLO) in Kampala noted that the media has a great role to play regarding promotion of healthy diets and physical activity. He observed that through legal empowerment and social accountability, using a human rights-based approach, participatory, and multi-sectoral approach, the issue to healthy diets will be sorted.
“Uganda lacks a Food Authority and urgently needs one. The food system in Uganda is not only sick, but also immoral. The food system in Uganda is sick and immoral. We need journalists to report on and back up legal campaigns to promote a healthy food system in Uganda,” said Counsel David kabanda. Kabanda who told the journalists how he personally abandoned his poultry, confectionery and restaurant business after ascertaining that scores of Ugandans were dying after eating contaminated food laced with chemicals.
“Uganda lacks a Food Authority, and needs one immediately. The food system in Uganda is not only criminal, but also immoral,” said Kabanda.
He observed that 89% of the vegetables served in leading restaurants and sold in Ugandan markets are laced with chemicals. He tasked the media (Fourth Estate) to report, educate and sensitize the masses regarding adequate living rights. “As media you need to sensitize the population regarding fictitious labeling of foods, especially in schools where children are endangered.
Kabanda noted that the Food and Drug Act of 1960 is absolute and needs amending. “The penalty for food adulteration is just 2,000, imagine such a small fine, you pay shs5000 and even demand for change,’ said Kabanda.
Henry Richard Kimera the Executive Director Consumer Consent Uganda took the media through the tools on effective and evidence based communication on regulatory and fiscal measures to promote healthy diets. “In Uganda cancer is now a burden to the tax payers. The food transportation in Uganda needs serious guidelines by the Local Government Authorities, since we have these laws in place,” said Kimera. He said that for food to be food, it must be safe. Kimera observed that politics without principles affects consumers. “Business without morality affects consumers with fraud in goods and services,” said Kimera.