The Minister for Health, Dr Jane Ruth Aceng, has pledged to present the National Food and Drug Authority Bill to Parliament in April and requested MP Mbwatekamwa to ditch preparations for his Private Member’s Bill.
“I want to believe that by March, Cabinet would have concluded on the Bill and by April, it will be tabled before Parliament. I do welcome Hon. Mbwatekamwa to join efforts with us and harness the ongoing work so that the Bill can be speedily enacted into law,” she told MPs during the Thursday, 20 February plenary sitting.
Prior, a complaint was raised by Kasambya County MP, Mbwatekamwa Gaffa on January 6, 2020 about delays in processing the Bill. Mbwatekamwa wanted Cabinet to explain delays lest he be granted leave of Parliament to introduce a Private Member’s Bill.
The Bill seeks to regulate foods, cosmetics, veterinary products and select medical equipment because they pose a danger to human life once unregulated.
Dr Aceng, under pressure from MPs, explained that the Bill, first introduced in 2009, has been delayed due to the failure by different stakeholders to reach consensus on critical provisions in the Bill.
She, for instance, said that whereas the Bill was ready in 2017 for presentation to Cabinet, it was challenged by the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries in regard to the regulation of veterinary medicinal products, biological chemicals and devices.
“Since the products under question were part of the Bill, we could not proceed to present it to the Cabinet until issues raised by the ministry were resolved,” Aceng to the House during the Thursday, 20 February 2020 plenary.
She was delighted that the Bill will be timely as the market has been undermined by hazardous products. “Some cosmetics are known to contain banned chemicals that are hazardous to human health such as skin lightening creams containing mercury,” said Aceng, adding that several drugs were being retailed as cosmetics yet majority of them contain steroids which are prescription-only medicines.
Mbwatekamwa, although appreciative of the Bill’s comprehensiveness, cautioned the minister that any further delays by Government would prompt him make good on his quest for a Private Member’s Bill.