A Ugandan university has withdrawn the requirement for nursing and midwifery students to take a pregnancy test before sitting for exams, after facing a backlash.
Kampala International University issued a notice on Tuesday saying: “This is to inform all nurses and midwives that you are supposed to go to KIU-TH for a pregnancy test for a fee of UGX 5,000 paid to the hospital’s accounts office.”
He added: “Failure to do so will result in you failing the UNMEB (Uganda Nursing and Midwifery Examination Board) examinations.”
The rate for 5,000 Ugandan shillings is about $1.33.
Epidemiologist Catherine Kyobutungi, executive director of the African Population and Health Research Center (APHRC), shared a photo of the notice on Twitter on Wednesday and wrote: “This is a total disgrace, discriminatory and unacceptable.”
She added: “Nursing and midwifery students being asked to take a pregnancy test, on their own, as a pre-condition to sit for exams is utter nonsense!!!”
Dr. Githinji Gitahi, CEO of the non-profit organization Amref Health Africa, answered tweeting: “What? Why? Really? Because pregnancy has anything to do with exams? Fetus gives undue advantage to exam? I’m so confused.”
Women’s rights organization IFAD Uganda posted a photo of a letter sent to the private university, reminding the institution that article 33 (3) of the country’s Constitution of 1995 “gives the protection of women and their rights, taking into account their unique status and natural maternal functions in society and this same article also prohibits discrimination against women”. women and guarantees their full and equal dignity of the person with men”.
On Thursday, the university reversed its policy.
“This is to inform you that the internal memo on pregnancy and pregnancy testing dated November 8, 2022 has been superseded (withdrawn),” wrote Professor Frank Kaharuza, assistant vice-chancellor of the Western Campus of the university, in a statement shared by the university on the day Twitter.
“Please focus on preparing for your UNMEB exams. I wish you all the best in your upcoming exams,” he continued.
The university also responded to FIDA Uganda in an email, shared by rights group a Twitterconfirming that “no student will be prevented from sitting for exams because a pregnancy test has not been taken”.
FIDA Uganda tweeted: “We are grateful for the cooperation of the Office of the Vice-Chancellor and wish to remind all academic institutions that any attempt to police student bodies constitutes a discriminatory action against the student body and is a violation of their autonomy physics..”
CNN has contacted Kampala International University for comment.