The Uganda Red Cross Society (URCS) on 30th July 2014 marked 50 years of humanitarian service with a series of activities taking place at Parliament. Included in these activities were First Aid simulations, membership recruitment and blood donation drives.
URCS volunteers and staff conducted first aid simulations designed to show and train MP’s on how to administer this on their colleagues in case of emergencies. MP’s were also encouraged to take part in the blood donation where 40 Units were collected from them alone. The donation drive was also open to public at CHOGM grounds adjacent to Parliament.
URCS, over the years has been engaging Parliament in a bid to have some amendments made to the Red Cross Act of Parliament. This and other issues concerning URCS’s work in the country formed the agenda of the Humanitarian Dialogue that has taken place in the Member’s Lounge, and led by Hon. Stephen Tashobya, Chairman URCS Central Governing Board and MP for Kajara County.
The dialogue focused on among other things making a case to the Parliament of Uganda for the enactment of a new law that makes it legally possible for someone to render aid in an emergency to an injured person on a voluntary basis. The Good Samaritan Law, as it is known in most parts of the world, will offer legal protection to people who provide reasonable assistance to those who are injured, ill, in danger, or otherwise incapacitated.
While on the floor of parliament the Chairman appealed to government to have the taxing of URCS stopped. The speaker Rebecca Kadaga and several MPs all pledged their support to Red Cross each citing several instances where URCS has extended a hand of help to their people during times of different disasters. MPs requested the government to consider a budget provision for URCS.
“In other countries, Red Cross is supported by their governments. Despite responding voluntarily the society still faces Value Added Tax and other taxes. The Good Samaritan law if enacted will go a long way in saving more lives especially victims of road accidents,” said Chairman Tashobya.
URCS has responded to several natural and manmade disasters in the country including Teso and Kasese floods, Ebola outbreak, landslides in Bududa, cholera outbreaks, AIDS pandemic and injured during riots in Kampala.
Present in the gallery were members of the Interim Central Governing board, URCS staff and delegates of Partner National Red Cross Societies.