Public Health Act
- Commenced on 15 October 1935
- [This is the version of this document at 31 December 2000.]
- [Note: The version of the Act as at 31 December 2000 was revised and consolidated by the Law Reform Commission of Uganda. All subsequent amendments have been researched and applied by Laws.Africa for ULII.]
Part I – Interpretation
1. InterpretationIn this Act, and in any rules made under this Act, unless the context otherwise requires—
Part II – Administration
2. Power to direct inquiriesThe Minister may cause to be made such inquiries as he or she may see fit in relation to any matters concerning the public health in any place.
3. Power of persons directed to make inquiriesWhen the Minister directs an inquiry to be made, the person directed to make the inquiry shall have free access to all books, plans, maps, documents and other things relevant to the inquiry and shall have in relation to witnesses and their examination and the production of documents similar powers to those conferred upon commissioners by the Commissions of Inquiry Act, and may enter and inspect any building, premises or place, the entry or inspection of which appears to him or her requisite for the purpose of the inquiry.
4. Appointment of sanitary boardsThe Minister may by statutory instrument establish any number of boards to be known as sanitary boards comprising such number of persons as the Minister may from time to time decide to exercise the powers conferred on local authorities by this Act in respect of any specified area and by such instrument the Minister may make provision, not inconsistent with this Act, for the conduct of the business of any board, the extent of its jurisdiction and generally for enabling it satisfactorily to exercise its powers.
5. General duties of local authoritiesEvery local authority shall take all lawful, necessary and reasonably practicable measures for preventing the occurrence of, or for dealing with any outbreak or prevalence of, any infectious, communicable or preventable disease; to safeguard and promote the public health; and to exercise the powers and perform the duties in respect of the public health conferred or imposed by this Act or by any other law.
6. Proceedings on complaint to Minister of local authority in municipality or town
7. Powers of person appointed under section 6Any person appointed under section 6 to perform the duty of a defaulting local authority shall, in the performance and for the purpose of that duty, have all the powers of the local authority other than the powers of levying rates vested in any local authority pursuant to the provision of any Act in that behalf; and the Minister may from time to time by order change any person so appointed.
8. Establishment of Advisory Board of Health
9. Provisions of this Act in relation to other Acts
Part III – Notification of infectious diseases
10. Minister’s power to declare notifiable diseasesThe Minister may by statutory order—
11. Power to make rules.
Part IV – Prevention and suppression of infectious diseases
12. Powers of medical officer of health to inspect premises and personsA medical officer of health may at any time enter and inspect any premises in which he or she has reason to believe that any person suffering or who has recently suffered from any infectious disease is or has recently been present, or any inmate of which has recently been exposed to the infection of any infectious disease, and may medically examine any person in the premises for the purpose of ascertaining whether the person is suffering or has recently suffered from or is a carrier of any such disease and may cause a postmortem examination to be made on any corpse for the purpose of ascertaining if the cause of death has been any infectious disease.
13. Powers of medical officer of health to cause premises to be disinfected
14. Destruction of infected building, bedding, etc.
15. Damage to articles during disinfectionWhen any article is damaged during disinfection no compensation shall be payable if suitable methods of disinfection have been employed and due care and all reasonable precautions have been taken to prevent unnecessary or avoidable damage.
16. No compensation for deprivation during disinfectionCompensation shall not be payable in respect of the deprivation of the occupation or use of any building or part of a building or of the use of any article occasioned by disinfection, if no undue delay has occurred.
17. Provision of means of disinfectionAny local authority may provide a proper place, with all necessary apparatus and attendance, for the disinfection of bedding, clothing or other articles which have become infected, and may cause any articles brought for disinfection to be dealt with free of charge.
18. Provision of conveyance for infected persons and thingsAny local authority may provide and maintain conveyances for the carriage of persons suffering from any infectious disease or for the removal of any infected bedding, clothing or other articles and may pay the expenses of carriage in such conveyance of any person so suffering to a hospital or other place of detention.
19. Removal to hospital of infected personsWhere in the opinion of a medical officer of health any person certified by a medical practitioner to be suffering from an infectious disease is not accommodated or is not being treated or nursed in such manner as adequately to guard against the spread of the disease, the local authority may cause the person to be moved to the hospital or any temporary place which in the opinion of a medical officer of health is suitable for the reception of the infectious sick and to be detained there until the medical officer of health or any medical practitioner, duly authorised thereto by the chief medical officer, is satisfied that he or she is free from infection or can be discharged without danger to the public health.
20. Penalty on exposure of infected persons and thingsAny person who—
21. Penalty on failing to provide for disinfection of public vehicleEvery owner or driver of a public vehicle shall immediately provide for the disinfection of the public vehicle to the satisfaction of the medical officer of health, after it has to his or her knowledge conveyed any person suffering from an infectious disease, and if he or she fails to do so he or she commits an offence and is liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding four hundred shillings, but no such owner or driver shall be required to convey any person so suffering until he or she has been paid a sum sufficient to cover any loss or expenses incurred by him or her in carrying into effect the provisions of this section.
22. Penalty for letting infected house
23. Duty of person letting house lately infected to give true informationAny person letting for hire or showing for the purpose of letting for hire any building or part of a building who on being questioned by any person negotiating for the hire of the house as to the fact of there being or within six weeks previously having been in it any person suffering from any infectious disease knowingly makes a false answer to the question commits an offence and is liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding one thousand shillings.
24. Notification of death and removal of body of person dying of infectious disease
25. Removal and burial of body of person who has died of an infectious disease
26. Local authority to remove and bury unclaimed bodiesA local authority shall be responsible for the removal and burial of bodies of destitute persons and of unclaimed bodies.
27. RulesThe Minister may make rules applicable to all infectious diseases or only to such infectious diseases as may be specified in the rules, regarding the following matters—
Part V – Special provisions regarding certain epidemic diseases
28. Epidemic or endemic diseasesThe provisions of this Part of this Act shall apply to smallpox, plague, Asiatic cholera, yellow fever, cerebrospinal meningitis, typhus, sleeping sickness or human trypanosomiasis and any other disease which the Minister may by statutory order declare to be a formidable epidemic disease for the purpose of this Part of this Act.
29. Power of Minister to make rules for prevention of diseaseWhenever any part of Uganda appears to be threatened by any disease described in section 28, the Minister may by statutory order declare the part an infected area and may make rules for all or any of the following purposes—
30. Local authorities to see to the execution of rules
31. Power of local authority or medical officer of health to enforce rulesAny local authority or medical officer of health or any person duly authorised by any local authority or medical officer of health shall have power of entry on any premises, vehicle or vessel, for the purpose of executing or superintending the execution of any rules so made by the Minister under section 29.
32. Notification of sickness or mortality in animals suspected of plague
33. Local authorities to report notification of formidable epidemic disease by expeditious meansEvery local authority shall immediately report to the chief medical officer or the nearest medical officer of health, by telegraph or other expeditious means, particulars of every notification received by the authority of a case or suspected case of any formidable epidemic disease, or of any unusual sickness or mortality in animals made under section 32.
34. Chief medical officer may requisition buildings, equipment, etc.
35. Penalties for offences against Part VAny person who commits an offence against this Part of this Act is liable on conviction to imprisonment for a period not exceeding twelve months or to a fine not exceeding two thousand shillings or to both such imprisonment and fine.
Part VI – Prevention of introduction of infectious diseases
36. Powers to enforce precautions at borders
Part VII – Smallpox
37. Definition of “public vaccinator” and “unprotected person”For the purposes of this Part of this Act—
38. Vaccination of childrenThe parent or guardian of every child born in Uganda shall, within twelve months from birth, unless the child is insusceptible or unfit or has suffered from smallpox, cause the child to be successfully vaccinated by a public vaccinator or medical practitioner, and the parent or guardian of every child shall procure one of the following certificates in the form prescribed, signed by a public vaccinator or medical practitioner—
39. Vaccination of persons in or entering Uganda
40. If adult or child unfit for vaccination, certificate to be given
41. Certificate of insusceptibility to be given
42. Certificate to be given for successful vaccinationEvery public vaccinator or medical practitioner who has vaccinated any adult or child, and has ascertained that the vaccination has been successful, shall deliver to that adult or to the parent or guardian of that child a certificate in the form in the Third Schedule to this Act, or to the like effect, certifying that the adult or child has been successfully vaccinated.
43. No fee to be charged for a certificate or for vaccination by public vaccinator
44. Vaccination of inmates of institutionsEvery superintendent or person in charge of a leper asylum, mental hospital, chronic sick hospital, gaol, prison, reformatory or other similar institution shall where practicable, cause to be vaccinated within fourteen days following his or her admission to the institution every inmate of the institution who, being in a fit state of health to undergo vaccination, fails to prove satisfactorily that he or she has been successfully vaccinated within the three years immediately preceding; if that person is at the time unfit to undergo vaccination, he or she shall be vaccinated as soon as he or she is so fit.
45. School attendance
46. Supply of vaccine lymph and inoculation from arm to arm, etc. forbiddenAny person who inoculates himself or herself or any other person against smallpox with material taken from a person suffering from smallpox or from a vaccine vesicle on another person or by any method not prescribed by regulations commits an offence.
47. Emergency vaccination of population in areas threatened with smallpoxIn the event of the occurrence or threatened outbreak of smallpox in any area—
48. Power to make rulesThe Minister may make rules—
Part VIII – Venereal diseases
49. Venereal diseasesThe provisions of this Act, unless otherwise expressed, insofar as they concern venereal diseases, shall be deemed to apply to primary or secondary syphilis in its contagious forms, acute and chronic gonorrhoeal ophthalmia, soft chancre, lympho granuloma inguinale, granuloma venereum and any other disease that may be declared by the Minister by statutory instrument as a venereal disease.
50. Employment of infected persons
51. Publication of advertisements of cures
52. Prevention of the treatment of venereal disease otherwise than by medical practitionerNo person shall for reward either directly or indirectly, unless he or she is a duly registered or licensed medical practitioner, treat any person for venereal disease or suspected venereal disease or prescribe any remedy for venereal disease, or give any advice in connection with the treatment of it, whether the advice is given to the person to be treated or to any other person.
53. Offences and penalties
Part IX – Sanitation and housing
54. Nuisances prohibitedNo person shall cause a nuisance, or shall suffer to exist on any land or premises owned or occupied by him or her or of which he or she is in charge, any nuisance or other condition liable to be injurious or dangerous to health.
55. Duties of local authorities to maintain cleanliness and prevent nuisancesEvery local authority shall take all lawful, necessary and reasonably practicable measures for maintaining its area at all times in clean and sanitary condition, and for preventing the occurrence in the area of, or for remedying or causing to be remedied, any nuisance or condition liable to be injurious or dangerous to health and to take proceedings at law against any person causing or responsible for the continuance of any such nuisance or condition.
56. Duty of local authorities to prevent or remedy danger to health arising from unsuitable dwellings
57. What constitutes a nuisanceThe following shall be deemed to be nuisances liable to be dealt with in the manner provided in this Part of this Act—
58. Author of nuisanceThe author of a nuisance means the person by whose act, default or sufferance the nuisance is caused, exists or is continued, whether he or she is the owner or occupier or both owner and occupier or any other person.
59. Notice to remove nuisanceA local authority or a medical officer of health, if satisfied of the existence of a nuisance, may serve a notice on the author of the nuisance, or, if he or she cannot be found, then on the occupier or owner of the dwelling or premises on which the nuisance arises or continues, requiring him or her to abate it within the time specified in the notice, and, if the local authority or medical officer of health thinks it desirable, but not otherwise, any work to be executed to abate or prevent a recurrence of the nuisance may be also specified in the notice; except that—
60. Procedure in case owner fails to comply with notice
61. Penalties in relation to nuisances
62. Court may order local authority to execute works in certain casesWhenever it appears to the satisfaction of the court that the person by whose act or default the nuisance arises, or that the owner or occupier of the premises, is not known or cannot be found, the court may at once order the local authority to execute the works directed by the order and the cost of executing the works shall be a charge on the property on which the nuisance exists.
63. Provision in case of two orders for overcrowding relating to the same houseWhere any court of competent jurisdiction has twice within a period of three months issued an order as specified in section 60(2) relating to overcrowding of the same premises or part of the same premises the court may, on the application of a local authority, order the house to be closed for such period as the court may deem necessary.
64. Power of saleAny matter or thing removed by a local authority in abating any nuisance under this Part of this Act may be sold by public auction; and the money arising from the sale may be retained by the local authority, and applied in payment of the expenses incurred by it in reference to the nuisance, and the surplus, if any, shall be paid, on demand, to the owner of the matter or thing if he or she establishes his or her claim to it within two years from the date of the sale, failing which the surplus shall become part of the public revenue.
65. Persons jointly responsible for nuisances may be proceeded against
66. Notice to remove nuisance
67. Prohibition in respect of back-to-back dwellings and rooms without through ventilation
68. Cost of execution of provisions relating to nuisances
69. Examination of premisesA local authority or a medical officer of health may enter any building or premises for the purpose of examining as to the existence of any nuisance in the building or premises at all reasonable times; and the local authority may if necessary open up the ground of the premises and cause the drains to be tested, or such other work to be done as may be necessary for the effectual examination of the premises; but if no nuisance is found to exist, the local authority shall restore the premises at its own expense.
70. Power of Minister to make rulesThe Minister may make rules and may confer powers and impose duties in connection with the carrying out and enforcement of the rules on local authorities, owners and others as to—
71. Rules as to buildings
72. Power to require removal or alteration of work not in conformity with rules
73. Limitation of powers granted under this Part
Part X – Special provisions as to sewerage and drainage
74. ApplicationThis Part of this Act or any sections in this Part shall apply to all local authorities.
76. Provision of public sewers and sewage disposal works
77. Duty of local authority to keep map showing public sewers
78. Power of local authority to alter or close public sewersA local authority may alter the size or course of any public sewer vested in it, or may discontinue and prohibit the use of any such public sewer, either entirely, or for the purpose of soil and waste water drainage, or for the purpose of storm water drainage, but, before any person who is lawfully using the public sewer for any purpose is deprived by the local authority of the use of the sewer for that purpose, the local authority shall provide a public sewer equally effective for his or her use for that purpose and shall at its expense make his or her drains or sewers to communicate with the sewer so provided.
79. Certain matters not to be passed into sewers or drains
Right to connect with public sewers
80. Right of owners and occupiers within district of local authority to drain into public sewers
81. Use of public sewers by owners and occupiers without the district of a local authority
82. Sewer connections in streets and through private landFor the purpose of making or maintaining a communication with a public sewer, it shall be lawful for a local authority to construct or repair a lateral drain or, with the prior consent of the local authority and in such manner as it may approve, for the owner of any building to construct or repair a drain or private sewer, as the case may be, in, on or over any land, but where that land does not form a part of a street, the local authority or owner shall give to every owner or occupier of the land reasonable notice and shall be liable to make good or, at the option of the local authority or the owner undertaking the works, to pay for any damage done or occasioned by reason of the exercise of the power; but the works intended to be carried out in exercise of the powers conferred in this section shall not interfere unduly with the amenities or future development of the land or any adjacent land and, in case of dispute, a person aggrieved may appeal in the manner set out in section 127(6) and (7).
83. Procedure in regard to making communication with public sewers
Drainage and latrines of new buildings
84. New buildings to be provided with any necessary drains, etc.
85. Latrine accommodation to be provided for new buildingsWhere plans of a building or of an extension of a building are, in accordance with any building rules, deposited with a local authority, the authority shall reject the plans unless either the plans and the prescribed particulars deposited with them show that the prescribed or sufficient and satisfactory latrine accommodation will be provided, or the authority is satisfied that in the case of a particular building or extension it may properly dispense with the provision of latrine accommodation; except that—(a)unless a sufficient water supply and public sewer are available, the authority shall not reject the plans on the ground that the proposed accommodation consists of or includes an earth closet or earth closets of a type approved by the authority; and(b)if the plans and the deposited particulars show that the proposed building or extension is likely to be used as a factory, workshop or workplace in which persons of both sexes will be employed, or will be in attendance, the authority shall reject the plans, unless either the authority is satisfied that sufficient and satisfactory separate latrine accommodation for persons of each sex will be provided, or that in the circumstances of the particular case it may properly dispense with the provision of such separate accommodation.
Drainage and latrines of existing buildings
86. Provisions as to drainage, etc. of existing buildings
87. Replacement of earth closets, etc. by water closetsIf any existing building in the district of a local authority has a sufficient water supply and sewer available, the authority shall, by notice to the owner of the building, require that any latrines, other than water closets, provided for, or in connection with, the building shall be replaced by water closets, and that the owner shall make an application within a specified time to have his or her drains made to communicate with a public sewer under section 83, notwithstanding that the latrines are not insufficient in number and are not prejudicial to health or are not a nuisance.
88. Buildings having insufficient or defective latrinesIf it appears to a local authority—
89. Buildings having defective latrines capable of repair
Drainage of buildings in combination
90. Drainage of buildings in combination
91. Payment of advances for defraying drainage expenses
92. RulesThe Minister may make rules for the purpose of prescribing any matters required to be prescribed and generally for carrying out the purposes of this Part of this Act.
Part XI – Prevention and destruction of mosquitoes
93. Breeding places of mosquitoes to be nuisancesFor the purposes of this Part of this Act—
94. Yards to be kept free from bottles, whole or broken, etc.
95. Clearance of bush or long grassNo person shall within a municipality or town permit any premises or lands owned or occupied by him or her or over which he or she has control to become so overgrown with bush or long grass as, in the opinion of a medical officer of health, to be likely to harbour mosquitos.
96. Wells, etc. to be covered
97. Cesspits to be screened or protected
98. Larvae, etc. may be destroyedWhere any of the immature stages of the mosquito are found on any premises in any collection of water in any cesspit, well, pool, channel, barrel, tub, bucket, tank or any other vessel, or any bottle, whole or broken, whether fixed on a wall or not, tin, box, calabash, shell or any other article, or in a tree, fallen or standing, the local authority or medical officer of health may take immediate steps to destroy the immature stages of the mosquito by the application of oil or larvicide, or otherwise, and to take such action as is necessary to prevent the recurrence of the nuisance and to render any pools or collections of water unfit to become breeding places for mosquitoes.
99. Mere presence of mosquito larvae an offence
100. Limitation of powers granted under this PartThe provisions of section 73 shall apply, mutatis mutandis, to the exercise of any powers granted under this Part of this Act to any person other than a local authority.
Part XII – Protection of foodstuffs
101. Construction and regulation of buildings used for the storage of foodstuffs
102. No person shall reside or sleep in any room in which foodstuffs are stored, etc.
Part XIII – Water and food supplies
103. Duty of local authorities as to polluted water suppliesIt shall be the duty of every local authority to take all lawful, necessary and reasonably practicable measures—
104. Minister may make rules
105. Medical officer of health’s powers to make orders for protection of public healthAny medical officer of health, if he or she reasonably considers the action necessary for the protection of the public health, may—
106. Minister may make ordersThe Minister may make statutory orders—
Part XIV – Cemeteries
107. Cemeteries to be appointedThe Minister may select and appoint by statutory instrument sufficient and proper places to be the sites of and to be used as cemeteries or crematoria for municipalities and towns; and it shall be an offence, where such cemeteries or crematoria exist, to bury or burn the dead elsewhere within the municipality or town.
108. Authorised cemeteriesAll cemeteries now being used as such and such other cemeteries as may be authorised by the Minister shall be deemed authorised cemeteries.
109. Permit to exhume
110. Exhumation needed for execution of public works may be ordered
111. Record of permit for exhumation
112. Closing of cemeteries by Minister
113. Cremations in places where no crematorium providedIn places where no crematorium is provided, it shall be permissible for cremations to be carried out at such places and under such conditions as are laid down by the local authority with the concurrence of the medical officer of health.
Part XV – General
114. Basements not to be occupied without permission
115. Lodging housesThe Minister may make rules for the conduct and inspection of lodging houses.
116. Nursing homes
117. Maternity and child welfareThe Minister may make rules for the proper control of clinics or institutions open or kept open by any person for the welfare and care of children or the care of expectant or nursing mothers.
118. Provision of medical attention, etc. by employers for their staffThe Minister may make rules for the provision of hospital accommodation and medical attention, specifying the medicines, equipment and other requirements necessary, to be provided by employers of nondomestic labour for the proper care of all labourers employed by them.
119. Regulation of public washermenAny local authority may by public notice prohibit the washing of clothes by washermen in the exercise of their calling except at public wash houses or at such other places as may be appointed for the purpose.
120. Control of irrigated land
121. Supervision of importation or manufacture of vaccines, etc.
Part XVI – Miscellaneous provisions
122. Authentication of notices, etc.
123. Service of notices, etc.Any notice, court summons, order or other document required or authorised to be served or issued under this Act may be served by delivering it at the residence of the person to whom it is addressed, or, where it is addressed to the owner or occupier of premises, by delivering it, or a true copy of it, to some person on the premises, or, if there is no person on the premises who can be served, by fixing it on some conspicuous part of the premises; it may also be served by post in a registered letter, and if so served shall prima facie be deemed to have been served at the time when the letter containing it would be delivered in the ordinary course of post, and in proving that service it shall be sufficient to prove that the notice, court summons, order or other document was properly addressed and put in the post.
124. Powers and duties of the officers of the Ministry of HealthThe deputy chief medical officer may, with the authority and on behalf of the chief medical officer, discharge any of the duties or functions of the chief medical officer, and any duties imposed or powers conferred by this Act on medical officers of health or health inspectors may be carried out or exercised by the chief medical officer, deputy chief medical officer or any officer designated by the chief medical officer for that purpose.
125. Defect in form not to invalidate notices, etc.No defect in the form of any notice or order made under this Act shall invalidate or render unlawful any administrative action taken or be a ground for exception to any legal proceedings which may be taken in the matter to which the notice or order relates, provided the requirements thereof are substantially and intelligibly set forth.
126. Powers of entry and inspection of premises and penalties for obstruction
127. Appeals against, and the enforcement of, notices requiring execution of works
128. Execution of works
129. Certain expenses recoverable from owners to be a charge on the premises; power to accept payment by installments
130. Power to make a charge in respect of establishment expensesWhere under this Act a local authority is empowered to execute works and to recover from any person the expenses incurred by it in so doing, it may include in, and recover as part of, the expenses an additional sum to cover customs duties and other charges and departmental expenses on such scale or in such manner as may be prescribed or as the Minister may direct.
131. Recovery of expenses, etc.
132. Protection of local authorities and their officers from personal liabilityNo matter or thing done and no contract entered into by any local authority, and no matter or thing done by any member of any local authority or by any officer of or acting on behalf of the local authority or by any other person acting under the direction of the local authority, shall, if the matter or thing were done or the contract entered into bona fide for the purpose of executing this Act, subject that member, officer or person personally to any action, liability, claim or demand.
133. Penalties where not expressly providedAny person who commits an offence against or contravention of, or default in complying with, any provision of this Act or any rules made under it, is liable on conviction, if no penalty is expressly provided for the offence, contravention or default, to a fine not exceeding two thousand shillings, and, if the offence, contravention or default is of a continuing nature, to a further fine not exceeding sixty shillings for each day during which the default continues.
134. Liability of secretary or manager of companyWhere a contravention of any of the provisions of this Act or any rules made under it is committed by any company or corporation, the secretary or manager of the company or corporation may be summoned and may be held liable for the contravention and its consequences.
135. Proceedings against several personsWhere proceedings under this Act are competent against several persons in respect of the joint act or default of those persons, it shall be sufficient to proceed against one or more of them without proceeding against the others.
137. Power of local authority outside its districtNothing in any written law specially governing any local authority shall be construed as preventing the local authority from exercising any power or performing any duty under this Act by reason only that in exercising the power or performing the duty it must do some act or thing or incur expenditure outside its district.
138. General power of Minister to make rulesThe Minister may make rules generally for carrying out the purposes of this Act.
History of this document
31 December 2000 this version
15 October 1935