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Labour Externalization: Office of the President tightens the grip on forgeries

Senior Presidential Advisor Amb. Abbey Walusimbi speaking to reporters at the Entebbe International Airport (PHOTO/Courtesy).

The Office of the President has launched its presence at the Entebbe International Airport, by debuting an online yellow fever validation program, a health support system that is a result of the need to curb malpractice in the program of yellow fever vaccination particularly in the externalisation of labour program.

Through a number of company audits done by the Office of the President Diaspora Affairs earlier this year, it was established that a number of companies were duped into using fabricated yellow fever certificates, which endangers the lives of the travelling people. Some companies were found operating non licensed laboratory facilities where some of them even had prescription drugs on site.

The Diaspora Affairs Office got in touch with Ministry of health to validate cards the exhibits found on site, and the ministry declared them as false, which gave birth to the current program that is now running at the Airport.

According to the Senior Presidential Advisor on Gender and Youth Affairs, In August, the Ministry of Health has issued 36,589 yellow fever certificates, hospitals and clinics have issued 21,244 yellow fever certificates to migrant workers.

Out of the 13,266 certificates presented by migrant workers at the Airport, and scanned by the yellow fever validation program at the Airport between September and October, 10,860 had active bar codes, 1096 had inactive barcodes, 563 were fake cards and 707 were old books without bar codes.

“Although initially the program was restricted to migrant workers, going forward all travelers to countries where yellow fever certificates are required will go through this validation process in order to curb the rampant malpractice where some people are offered certificates without even receiving the vaccine and this is illegal.” Hon Nakiwala.

The Senior Presidential advisor on Diaspora Affairs Amb. Walusimbi noted that the office of the president is not working in isolation.

“We are working in liaison with Ministry of Gender, Ministry of Internal Affairs, Ministry of Health, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Anti-Corruption Unit, Port Health, Civil Aviation Authority, Aviation Police, Uganda Association of External Recruitment Association among other stakeholders, because in order to successfully streamline the industry, all stakeholders must be on board and on the same page, because we are one government.”

According to Dr. Driwale Alfred, Ministry of health in conjunction with UNEPI rolled out new phases of administering the yellow fever vaccine, and effective October 1st 2022, all children aged 9months will be vaccinated against yellow fever and over the next 3 years, they are targeting over 16million people along the DRC boarder to have received the vaccine.

Officials were taken on a guided tour of Entebbe International Airport

Although there is a backlog of people who possess yellow fever certificates which are not coded, Hon. Florence Nakiwala Kiyingi said that arrangements are already made to cater for this and as soon as the backlog is cleared, the whole Yellow fever vaccination program will be 100% digitized. Ambassador Walusimbi said that: “We have consistently received complaints of ongoing malpractice not only in the health sector but also about trafficking in human activities and we are aware of the different rackets involved in this, however His Excellency President Museveni has had enough of people treating his bazzukulu inhumanely which is why he tasked our office to get involved in the fight against these vices”

Amb. Walusimbi added that office of the President has been allocated office space at the Airport and this office will partake in monitoring the activities of everyone who is part of the labour externalisation program right from the point of recruitment, to the point of exit, be it at the Airport of land boarders.

While taking a tour of the Airport with the intention of familiarizing the team with the processes that migrant workers go through when going and when returning home, Ambassador Walusimbi commended the Director Aviation and Security Engineer Sooma Ayub and his dedicated team for doing a diligent job because at all points there were officials present, exuding good customer care and love for their jobs.

“I am quite moved by the architecture of the new Airport and quality of work that has been done, I am confident that upon completion of the project our Airport will be one of the best Airports in the world, with a lot of systems automated, which will resolve a lot of inconsistencies with manual systems. I upload the Port health officials for the automated thermo capturing system that is being used at the Airport, which helps prevent commotion and long queues” Ambassador Walusimbi said.

He added that, “Since office of the President is the overall overseer of all government projects, our operations are not only going to be at the Airport, but will spread to all boarder points in a bid to help Ugandans receive the treatment they deserve and protect them from inhuman labour exploitation tactics.”

“His Excellency the President, has charged us with a responsibility of monitoring and streamlining the industry, which we are doing alongside all stakeholder government Ministries, Departments and Agencies, without necessarily stepping onto anyone’s toes because we are one government and we have a duty to protect our people while also delivering superb services.

His Excellency the president will not rest until Uganda ranks number one in efficient service delivery on the African continent.” Reiterated Amb. Walusimbi.

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