By Andante Okanya
Practitioners of reflexology whose activities were banned in March last year, have insisted that Government’s actions were illegal.
Their submissions were made by their lawyers during the much-anticipated hearing of the case at the Commercial Court in Kampala on Monday.
Denis Sembuya and Isaac Kimaze told court presided by Justice Godfrey Kiryabwire, that the then Health minister Stephen Mallinga misdirected himself when he announced the ban.
Sembuya stated that Mallinga’s decision was erroneous since he did not follow the mandatory process.
“The minister banned their activities without quoting any stipulated law and where he had based his decision. The ministry of Health had a duty to give each of the complainants an opportunity to defend themselves before taking a drastic decision to close their businesses,” Sembuya said.
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 accorded them a hearing before their activities were outlawed.
The umbrella body Uganda Reflexologists Association of Uganda, together with Alleluia Reflexology Health Solution and Nutrition Centre Limited, filed an application for judicial review in protest against the ban.
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.
The ban 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.
Sembuya added that the genuine practitioners, who were affected, had registered companies certified under the law.
Kimaze dismissed Government’s claim that it acted on public interest, saying Government instead abused this very public trust when it effected the ban instead of clamping down in the quarks.
“Like any other trade, there are quarks. Government is supposed to separate the wheat from the chaff .Good reflexologists were punished disproportionately and the bad were let off the hook,”Kimaze said.
He noted that the complainants have always pleaded with Government to streamline the practice of reflexology. Kimaze said the will still stands.
But the Attorney General's representative principal state attorney Wanyama Kodoli, stated that Mallinga did not take decision but only communicated the decision.
The judge said ruling would be given at a yet to be announced date.
What is Reflexology?
Reflexology, or zone therapy, 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.
It is based on what reflexologists claim to be a system of zones and reflex areas that they say reflect an image of the body on the feet and hands, with the premise that such work effects a physical change to the body