By Andante Okanya from New Vision Ugandas leading daily
Government’s chief legal advisor the Attorney General(AG) and the aggrieved reflexology practitioners whose activities were banned last year, are scheduled to lock horns in a court on June 27after the Health ministry declined to consent with the aggrieved.
Appearing at the Commercial Court in Kampala, the AG’s representative principal state attorney Wanyama Kodoli, said the ministry had instructed the AG to defend the ban.
“The ministry of Health in a letter by the permanent secretary dated December 7, 2011, said we should defend the case. The respondents oppose the application, that it is misconceived,” Kodolo said
The parties to the case were in court presided over by Justice Geoffrey Kiryabwire. The reflexologists were represented by Denis Sembuya. He said he was ready for the hearing, as scheduled.
The case arose on March 24 last year, when the reflexologists filed an application for judicial review at the court in protest at the ban, contending that Government never consulted them before the order was made.The other respondent in the application is the then Health minister Steven Mallinga.
The ban by the ministry was based on an investigation which indicated that reflexology centres posed a risk to the patients’ lives since most of them lack training and did not comply with operational standards.
The report was compiled by the Uganda medical and dental practitioners’ council, nurses and midwives council, allied health professionals council and the pharmacy council.
The umbrella body Uganda Reflexologists Association of Uganda, together with Alleluia Reflexology Health Solution and Nutrition Centre Limited, filed the application.
Judicial review is conducted by the High Court in relation to proceedings plus decisions taken by subordinate courts and inferior tribunals or bodies. The Commercial Court is a division of the High Court.
Prior, the reflexologists submitted proposals to the ministry, on how to regulate their activities but their efforts were in vain. Quizzed by the judge on September 7 last year, why the ministry had discarded the reflexologists’ proposals without consideration, the registrar of the Medical and Dental Practitioners Council Dr. Katumba Ssentongo, said a bill on complimentary medicine regulation was in the offing.
Ssentongo explained that the ministry was finalising a policy drafted in 2009, and forwarded to the parliamentary counsel for bill preparation.
But Justice Kiryabwire said court cannot wait for the bill to be passed to hear the case. He noted that passing of bills in parliament usually takes long.
“We aren’t mandated to try the law of the future. We can only deal with the law that has been passed. No court can wait for a bill. That would be bad,” the judge noted.
Reflexology is an alternative medicine involving the physical act of applying pressure to the feet, hands, or ears with specific thumb, finger, and hand techniques without the use of oil or lotion.
California Senate Bill 1193, sponsored by Senator Steinberg, has passed by a vote of 5-2 in the Senate Appropriations Committee. If approved by the Assembly and Governor Brown, the bill will require that all massage businesses post a notice near the public entrance to the business containing certain information regarding human trafficking, including the contact information for human trafficking hotlines. A model notice containing the required language would be made available for download on the California Department of Justice’s website by April 1, 2013.
ABMP opposes the inclusion of massage businesses in the bill. While we believe that human trafficking is a serious problem in California, notices regarding human trafficking which are placed in legitimate massage businesses will do nothing to address the problem, and are not appropriate in such locations. ABMP wrote a formal letter of opposition to Senator Steinberg in April of this year, which you can read here.
Current information indicates that despite ABMP’s opposition, S.B. 1193 is likely to pass. The bill has been assigned to the Assembly Judiciary Committee, we will keep you updated on the status of the bill as it progresses.