Members of the 10th Parliament have highlighted the need by government to encourage physical exercise in the country as well as setting aside a day every week for all people to be involved.
The matter came up during Thursday’s plenary in Parliament following a motion moved by Kasambya County MP, Mbwatekamwa Gaffa highlighting several reasons why such a policy is necessary.
Mbwatekamwa said that whereas Objective 17 of the National Objectives and Directive Principles of State Policy mandates Uganda to promote recreation and sports for the citizens of Uganda, a lot still needs to be done to realize this.
Last year, government through the Ministry of Health introduced a national day of Physical Activity which will be marked mon the second Sunday of July every year. The day was gazetted in line with the Ministry’s efforts to raise awareness on the growing burden of Non-Communicable Diseases (NDC) in Uganda.
MP Mbwatekamwa said that a single day in the entire year is insufficient since in order for one to realize the benefits of physical exercise, one requires daily commitment and consistency.
The legislator said that the World Health Organisation (WHO) recommendations on physical activity for health, require that throughout a week, including activity for work, during transport and leisure time, adults dedicate at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity physical activity achieving at least 600 MET-minutes.
The legislator further observed that since the road network in the country does not facilitate safe daily exercise due to lack of provision for walkways and cyclist lanes, there is need to set apart a day that will be used for physical exercise without interruptions.
During Thursday’s debate, several legislators noted that as a matter of fact, several Primary and Secondary schools in the country especially in the city centres, no longer have adequate land for extra-curricular facilities.
“This has increased the risk for non-communicable diseases and compromised the health of our future generation,” the Masindi Woman MP, Jalia Bintu commented.
“Our infrastructure does not allow us to exercise. We compete with boda bodas, taxis and all other road users, therefore this gazette day will be very useful,” noted MP, Jalia Bintu.
Among those who supported the motion by Mbwatekamwa was Mukono Municipality MP, Betty Nambooze. She proposed that government stops taxing bicycles especially those for children since they are not for luxury but enhancing physical exercise.
“We should ensure that our roads have facilities that allow for physical exercise and the Ministry of Education should stop issuing licenses to schools without a physical exercise plan or policy,” Nambooze said.
In her ruling, the Speaker Rebecca Kadaga noted that indeed there is need for such a government policy in place, noting however that there are a lot of costs involved that government must first look into.
“This is a very serious issue. We could have two days for exercise in a week because we have a facility but members are not using it. I ask the Education Ministry to take this up and work on it and bring it back here,” Kadaga ruled.