By Mike Ssegawa
The 21st Century Alcohol Prevention and Policy conference which closed at Mahaweli Beach hotel, in Kandy city in Sri Lanka has lauded Ugandan legislators for championing a Bill that would help regulate alcohol manufacturing and selling in the interest of public health.
The conference attended by Ugandan parliamentarians was closed by the International President IOGT Kristina Sperkova. IOGT is a global movement working with UN to reduce harm caused by alcohol and other drugs.
Sperkova recognized efforts of legislators in Uganda led by Mukono Municipality MP Betty Nambooze who are spearheading a law to regulate the manufacturing and selling of alcohol in the country.
The host country for this year’s conference, Sri Lanka, was picked because of its progress in curbing on the harm caused by alcohol consumption.
“A few years ago it was among the leading risk drinkers in the world a situation they have since overcome,” says Ms Nambooze, who led a delegation of MPs and alcohol campaigners.
MPs Muntonyi Rose Masaba (Bubulo county), Omanyi Oscar (youth MP Northern), and Bagoole John Ngobi (Luuka county) are some of the member of the delegation. The others are Tamale John Mirundi, a legal officer at Parliament, Bafaki Gordon Tumwine and Arthur Mugabi, a research assistant.
The Ugandan delegation was one of the 120 delegations from across the world which attended the international conference.
The Ugandans also got time to meet the Sri Lanka president who personally chairs the anti alcohol committee of his country.
“As leader of delegation I asked for assistance from Sri Lanka to carry out the alcohol campaign beyond parliamentary chambers,” Nambooze told Watchdog website from Kandy city, located on the shores of the Indian Ocean.
She added, “We agreed that we shall have an exchange program that will see youth from Uganda especially Mukono go to Sri Lanka on exchange programme. Sri Lanka has promised to sponsor some youth for courses of prevention of harmful use of alcohol and drugs, rehabilitation of victims and finding alternative income for alcohol small businessmen.”
Nambooze was also able to lobby for a twinning programme for her city she represents in parliament and for Buganda kingdom.
“Mukono Municipality mayor and some councillors to be selected to travel to Sri Lanka early next year to sign memorandum of understanding and twinning programme with the Sri Lankan second largest city of Kandy. The Kattikiro of Buganda will select a team to travel with Mukono people to sign a memorandum of agreement between Mengo and Srilanka on cultural exchange especially in supporting the preservation of Kabaka’s lake at Mengo together with the Lord Mayor.”
It is estimated that in Uganda every person consumes 24lrs of alcohol per capita, compared to 4lrs of alcohol per capita for Srirankans.
Nambooze was however quick to add that alcohol is allowed to be consumed by tourists who contribute the biggest part of the country’s economy.
Alcohol however continues to fetch Sri Lanka some good fortune, bringing the country $500million in taxes.
Nambooze says Sri Lanka discovered that countries earn more money from regulated sell of alcohol.
Sri Lanka is a successful model for alcohol abuse control but still earns from it. The country uses children in projects that train students and pupils to go tell their parents to stop drinking alcohol.
Nambooze says such clubs will be started in her consistency in Mukono with assistance from Sri Lanka and Germany.