By Henry Sekanjako
AS Uganda joins the rest of the world to mark the International Youth Day, Youth MPs have called for a ban on Shisha smoking among the youth saying it is a health threat to the youth who are the future leaders of Uganda.
The MPs under the umbrella body Uganda Parliamentary Forum on Youth Affairs (UPFYA) said Shisha smoking coupled with other drugs had led to an increase in mental cases reported among the youth.
“Mental health has become a serious issue in this country, if you want to know pass by Butabika Hospital. As leaders we can no longer treat things like shisha smoking as light because they are the major cause of mental illness among our youth,” said Gerald Karuhanga the youth MP western region.
Before the establishment of an enabling law on shisha smoking, the MPs want police to stop bars, clubs and hotels from selling shisha which they say has become an addiction among the youth.
Early this year, Government announced that it was working on a bill to ban shisha smoking among other deadly drugs which are a catalyst to crime in the country.
“Most of the young people have lost the urge to work just because they are involved in drug abuse which has led to increase in mental cases, smoking shisha can never reduce on the level of mental illness, we should deal with it,” noted Evelyn Anite the youth MP Northern region.
Statistics indicate that in Uganda, cases of mental illness are high among the young people who form majority of the country’s population.
According to Butabika National Referral Hospital, cases of mental illness registered at the facility have doubled since 2013 with most patients being youth.
“The facility records at least 28 cases of mental illness every month and most of these are youth with the biggest cause being drug and alcohol abuse,” said Anite.
The MPs who were addressing journalists in Kampala over the weekend, ahead of the youth day celebrations on Tuesday in Moroto district, appealed to the youth to exploit different government youth development programmes such as the Youth Livelihood Program for economic empowerment.
“We must acknowledge the fact that the government has in the recent past made some progress and put in place programs that are aimed at empowering the young people economically, politically and socially,” said Peter Ogwang, the youth MP Eastern region.