By Max Patrico Ocaido
Minister of State for Veteran Affairs Maj. Bright Rwamirama has said that refugees are the ones spreading diseases that are killing Ugandans.
Rwamirama said this while paying tribute to former Ruhaama County MP late William Beijukye Zinkuratiire during a special sitting at Parliament on Monday.
Beijukye died on Friday night after battling chronic Hepatitis B virus that damaged his liver. He was flown to India four times for treatment but it was too little too late for the humble and soft-spoken legislator.
While paying tribute to the deceased, Minister Rwamirama asked government to immunize all refugees who are entering or living in Uganda against non-communicable diseases that are killing Ugandans.
“What worries me is that diseases that had been cured are coming back again to haunt us. Take for example measles, polio and now Hepatitis B. Because Uganda is very accommodative, we have allowed refugees to come here but these refugees are the ones bringing us diseases. We need to vaccinate these refugees entering and living here,” Rwamirama said.
OTHERS MPS EULOGIZE BEIJUKYE
Dorothy Azairwe, Kamwenge Woman MP eulogized Beijukye whom she studied with as a hardworking, innovative businessman who used to pay his own school fees.
“He was a businessman right from childhood; selling onions on the road and now he was the founder of Parambot Breweries Limited, a company that makes local brew including Moonberg lager,” Azairwe said. She requested government to launch a campaign to vaccinate all Ugandans against Hepatitis B that has become deadlier than HIV.
Rukiga County MP Herbert Kabafunzaki said that it was a difficult time having lost a cousin, friend and colleague who was a trusted businessman and had his community at heart.
Education Minister and First Lady Janet Museveni eulogized Beijukye, who succeeded her for the Ruhaama County as an MP who served his country diligently.
“His family should not be ashamed of anything because he served his constituency and country diligently for the short time he has been at Parliament, Janet Museveni said. She thanked the Lord for the life of Beijkuye and for the work he has done in his short life.
“He has been a good servant who served all his people equally; he did not practice any sectarianism, tribalism or religion. He served Ruhaama honorably because he was an honest man and dependable. It’s a tragedy that his life was cut short before he could do much, therefore we have prematurely lost a dependable, promising and upcoming leader,” Mrs Museveni said.
Hepatitis B shattering families
Lily Adong, Nwoya Woman MP revealed how Hepatitis B virus has shattered families and marriages in her constituency because there is inadequate counselling and guidance given to the victims.
“In my constituency, people were called in a form of a rally for testing and those who were found positive were simply told to go to the clinic without any guidance. This caused marriages to collapse. Let’s save our people at least we should not die of Hepatitis B yet government can contain it,” she said.
Beijukye remained strong as death approached
State minister for Finance David Bahati revealed how Beijukye remained hopeful even when he knew he had less than 6 months to live.
“Yesterday I represented you [Speaker Oulanyah] at the vigil of late Beijukye and his wife, Allen told me what she went through while the deceased was not feeling well. They flew Beijukye to India 4 times and at one stage, the doctors asked them why they had returned yet they had told them there is nothing much they could do. But even when doctors had told him that he was not going to live for more than 6 months, William remained a hopeful man, he even came to this House well knowing that he would not live for 6 months,” Bahati said.
Bahati blasted fellow MPs who spend a lot of time in hatred rather than using the little time on earth to work together to build this country.
“The only way to pay tribute to Beijukye is for us to fight this disease. The good thing (is that) it’s preventable and all we need now is to avail testing kits, treatment and make it a priority,” Bahati said.
However, state minister for Health (General), Sarah Opendi said that whereas government is committed to fighting Hepatitis B virus, they are financially constrained.
“We can’t provide vaccines to all Ugandans. That is why we are doing it in phases starting with areas with high prevalence rates such as Acholi and Lango with prevalence rate of 4.6% followed by Teso and Karamoja with prevalence rate of 4.4%. This Financial Year, we have received funds and we are going to Busoga which also have a high prevalence rate of about 2.7%,” Opendi said.
The body of the deceased will today be transported to Ntungamo district where he will be laid to rest tomorrow, November 07.