In 2017, the Parliament of Uganda revived a private member’s Bill that sought to regulate the alcohol industry. The Alcoholic Drinks Control Bill, 2016, was initially brought forward by Betty Nambooze, the Mukono Municipality Member of Parliament (MP).
In 2016, MP Nambooze and a delegation of other MPs and their assistents joined Movendi International in Sri Lanka for a capacity-building trip, visiting with the Alcohol and Drug Information Center (ADIC), the National Authority on Tobacco and Alcohol (NATA), and attending workshops with Movendi International – on the margins of the alcohol policy conference Movendi International and ADIC had organized.
The “21st Century Alcohol Policy and Prevention Conference” brought together policy makers and advocates from around the world, including H.E. the President of Sri Lanka, Maithripala Sirisena, other decision-makers from the South-East Asian region as well as East African leaders, including MP Nambooze.
In 2019, just five months after the government’s sachet alcohol ban, the cabinet approved the new alcohol control policy for Uganda, the so called “National Alcohol Control Policy (NACP).”
The new policy aims to prevent and reduce alcohol harm through the following three measures:
- Strengthening the regulation of the production, packaging, distribution, marketing, sale and consumption of all alcohol beverages;
- Raising community awareness about the magnitude and determinants of the health, and the social and economic problems associated with alcohol use; and
- Enhancing capacity and increasing technical support for prevention of alcohol and management of associated alcohol use disorders.
From policy to law – through parliamentary leadership
While the adoption of the NACP is to be celebrated, there is more to be done to develop and adopt an Alcohol Law in Uganda as envisioned by Betty Nambooze. An alcohol law is necessary to implement the NACP in the country. Almost two years after adoption of the NACP, a resulting alcohol law has yet to be adopted. Betty Nambooze who was elected again to the 11th Parliament of Uganda has vowed to renew her efforts to make this alcohol law a reality.
An alcohol law would provide for the regulation of alcohol manufacture, packaging, licensing, sale, and consumption; and the restriction of alcohol advertising, promotions and sponsorships; as well as the protection of alcohol control policies from commercial and other vested interests of the alcohol industry.
The road to the Ugandan alcohol control policy was in no way a smooth one due to the alcohol industry’s aggressive interference in the policy making process.
Fortunately, the member organizations of Movendi International and other civil society organizations came together to form the Uganda Alcohol Policy Alliance (UAPA) – supported by the Swedish IOGT-NTO movement. Together they rallied to ensure a public health centric alcohol control policy.
It is a time for the public health champions to show face again, to see a proper law if the gains made in the policy shall be consolidated,” David Kalema, President of UAPA and founder and Executive Director of Hope and Beyond.David Kalema, President, UAPA, and Founder/Executive Director, Hope and Beyond