Tell me about yourself
I’m Moses Talibita, an advocate of patients’ rights and responsibilities bill and an enforcement authority of the Tobacco Control Act of 2015.
I have been at the centre of the inaction of the Act and the agitation of the bill at the Uganda National Health Consumer’s Organisation (UNHCO).
What exactly do you do?
I do policy briefs documenting patients’ rights violation and supporting health and legal reforms in the health sector.
I do budget advocacy for the health sector (better pay, shelter and equitable distribution of resources) to have a health sector that is considered ideal by both the clients and the health workers. I also educate community based paralegals in Dokolo and Mukono for legal empowerment.
Tell me what you have done to support the health sector
I spear headed the expansion of article 22 (right to life) in the constitutional amendment of 2015 to include the right to health. I led Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) to parliament to agitate for this.
Tell me about the Patients’ rights and responsibilities bill of 2015 that you are fronting?
The Ministry of health adopted the patients’ charter in 2009 which lists patients’ rights and responsibilities, sanctions health workers that bleach the patient health worker relationship. It is intended to bring back patients who have done away with hospital because of harsh treatment of the health workers and fear for patient’s detention for failure to pay.
I bore a proposal to have a legal framework that makes legitimate patients’ rights and responsibilities by using a constructive engagement approach with the health workers, the lack of which leaves the charter a mere pronunciation.
What is patients’ detention and how does the bill address it?
Patient detention is an inhumane and degrading treatment of patients, which is characterised as illegal imprisonment and discriminating against patients. Detention of patients is to contain contagious diseases and not to punish failure to pay bills. The Bill seeks to have this checked because it looks at it as a violation of a right to freedom. Hospitals invest a lot in security that captures those that have failed to pay rather than the entire security of the hospital.
So how are the hospitals supposed to cover these costs?
Hospitals can create a consolidated fund to help the patients who are incapable or fail to pay, here they can mitigate on the costs. If a patient recovers, they can get into an agreement with the hospital to do communal work without pay to cover the bills.
If the worst comes to the worst, sue the patient in the courts of law rather than committing more crimes by detaining the patient.
Talking about the Tobacco Control Act of 2015, what does it highlight?
It is a public health law intended to protect non-smokers from the reckless habits of smokers. It protects persons below 21 years from being involved in Tobacco activities like cultivation, manufacturing, selling and purchasing.
It also restricts public smoking and selling of tobacco 50metres away from schools, health centres, prison and police cells, places of worship, airports among other places.
The law prohibits sale, display and importation of Tobacco products like sisha, kuber and electronic cigarettes.
How has this Act been received by the public?
The public wants us to enforce the law as it is, they are happy that the law empowers them to chase away the smokers from public places.
However, the public is angry with us saying the law should have banned tobacco manufacturing rather than tobacco use.
What are you doing to address this?
The tobacco business is not an illegal business because there is no law saying it should not be sold however, there is a human right to a clean environment which needs to be observed. The Act’s restrictions in one way or another speak of a ban itself.
What are some of the challenges with this?
The deep-rooted stereotypes where people think the tobacco industry does a lot to the country’s economy have hindered our operations a lot.
Opinion leaders, politicians, and celebrities who smoke in business places that gazette smoke zones are a big hiccup. All these are counterproductive of our efforts but we are prepared to counter this as we do a lot of sensitisation on the dangers of tobacco.
Where do you see this law in the future?
I want to get to the point where the law has public appeal such that even when we are not there, the public can implement it.
Away from the advocacy world, what is Talibita’s other life like?
Well, I am a part time lecturer at Nkumba University School of Social Sciences, married with one child and I love farming.
I read a lot and I am a blogger. In my free time, I swim, hang out with friends and play pool.
What is your desired legacy?
I want to be remembered as a person who caused a constitutional inclusion of the right to health. I drafted the law and I am training community paralegals and students on this. I believe that even if I do not achieve this, the people I talk to like it and will pursue it.