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interview to Daniel Mwesigwa Iga

23 August 2022,@interviewer: Kasumi ITO@at Mwesigwa Medical Centre

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Kasumi Ito
So, it has started. So firstly, I would like to ask you about the connection with Denmark. How did you find the connection with them?

Daniel Mwesigwa Iga
I don't understand the question very well.

Kasumi Ito
Sorry. It was too very short. Mental Health Uganda have a strong connection with SIND in Denmark. And you participated in the General Assembly of the Worldc

Yeah. In Vejle. Yeah. I think before that you have a connection with them.

Daniel Mwesigwa Iga
Yes. I had a connection with by then the co-chair of the World Network of Users and Survivors of Psychiatry. He was called Karl Jensen.

Karl Jensen, before the congress came to Uganda. And he was looking for users and survivors of psychiatry, who would involve in that world network. Because they were trying to build at least some network in Africa.

Kasumi Ito
From when you become involved in movement in Uganda. From which year did you start to be active in the movement?

Daniel Mwesigwa Iga
Okay. Yeah. I started being active in the movement in the year 2002.

Kasumi Ito
So, about two years before?

Daniel Mwesigwa Iga
Yeah, two years before the Congress, yes.

Kasumi Ito
Yes. How did you meet the movement of Mental Health Uganda?

Daniel Mwesigwa Iga
How I came to know about the existence? Yes. Because I was ? within myself I was thinking that we need our rights to be recognized and also protected. So I went to the Minister for Disability by then. So asking her that whether she recognized that we are also people with disabilities because of the discrimination and whatever the people have been going through. And they were quite in stigma and discrimination. So, it was a thought. That was way back I think in 2002. So in 2002, that's when Mental Health Uganda I think was becoming a national organization.

I'm not very clear about the dates. But since you were there I don't I don't know whether you got the actual dates. So, the minister remembered that I had been to her office. And by that time I was working in Mengo Hospital. So they literally drove her there and she told me, there is an organization here, can you join? Maybe they can answer some of your questions if you want to join. So she gave me a card to introduce me to their first general assembly

Kasumi Ito
Was it in Kampala?

Daniel Mwesigwa Iga
Yes, it was in Kampala.

Kasumi Ito
Did you go to a branch of Mental Health Uganda? I heard there was some branch in Mental Health Uganda.

Daniel Mwesigwa Iga
That question is not clear.

Kasumi Ito
I heard there are some branches, some Mental Health Uganda in Kampala Uganda, Mental Health Uganda in Mbale, Jijna and something like that.

Daniel Mwesigwa Iga
Yes, there are branches as they have told you, there is in Kampala, in Mbale, in Soroti, Kabale, and now I don't know how far they have spread. But by that time when I joined, there was in Kampala, in Mbale, in Mpigi, in Kabale, and Soroti I think because we used to have members from there.

Kasumi Ito
Yeah, you were the member of the Mental Health Uganda in Kampala?

Daniel Mwesigwa Iga
Yes, I was one of the members in the branch in Kampala.

Kasumi Ito
At that time did Mental Health Uganda already have connection with SIND in Denmark

Daniel Mwesigwa Iga
Yes, I think so because they were the people who were funding their activities. But I was not aware because being new, so I cannot know much of the detail, but I would just think.

Kasumi Ito
Did you become some role like a chair or board?

Daniel Mwesigwa Iga
Okay. Yes. When I joined I became the National General Secretary on the board.

Kasumi Ito
After you involved in Mental Health Uganda. National?

Daniel Mwesigwa Iga
National General Secretary, yes.

Kasumi Ito
When you went to first General Assembly, you become General Secretary.

Daniel Mwesigwa Iga
Yeah, in that General Assembly yes.

Kasumi Ito
How many people came to the 1st General Assembly? How big?

Daniel Mwesigwa Iga
Maybe just an estimate, because now I cannot recall, itfs long, maybe the General Assembly I think we had around 30 people.

Kasumi Ito
So how long did you serve as a Secretary General?

Daniel Mwesigwa Iga
As a General Secretary I served until 2010.

Kasumi Ito
So, about eight or seven years.

Daniel Mwesigwa Iga
I served around 10 years, two times office bearing.

Kasumi Ito
What is the main work of the Secretary General?

Daniel Mwesigwa Iga
The main work was actually to minutes during the board meeting. During the board meetings to take some minutes.

Kasumi Ito
Okay. Do you have that minutes now?

Daniel Mwesigwa Iga
No. We used to write in a book which we leave at the Secretariat in Mental Health Uganda.

Kasumi Ito
So, when the General Assembly of World Network are held in Kampala and General Assembly of the Africa Network was held in Kampala, at the time you were Secretary General I think.

Daniel Mwesigwa Iga
Yes, I think. Yes, I was.

Kasumi Ito
so, I'd like to ask you about that General Assembly. About the General Assembly held in Kampala in 2005, General Assembly of Pan African Network, how did you find the member who participate in the General Assembly?

I think it was first?

Daniel Mwesigwa Iga
How did we find the members?

Kasumi Ito
Participant

Daniel Mwesigwa Iga
The participants. Those questions are mostly the Mental Health Uganda Secretariat to ask because they would be ? they are the people who organized this. But I only knew a few of the members like Mossa Sallie who we had we had met in Vejle. And also Janet Amegatcher from Ghana. Mossa Sallie is from South Africa, then Janet Amegatcher.

Janet Amagacha also we had met in Vejle and I think the Sylvester Katontoka from Zambia

Kasumi Ito
Also you met him at Vejlec

Daniel Mwesigwa Iga
In fact, the issue of making the Pan African Network. When we were in Vejle, we saw they had the European Network of Users and Survivors of Psychiatry. So we also felt we should begin an African Network of Users and Survivors of Psychiatry. And on that Pan African Network, I think I was also on the ? when the General Assembly was here in Kampala, I was elected on the executive as a treasurer of Pan African Network of Users and Survivors of Psychiatry. Mossa Sallie was Secretary and Janet was our Chair.

Kasumi Ito
Did you participate at an International or Pan African Conference before Vile. Did you participate the conference like Conference of WHO or Conference of International Mental Health something.

Daniel Mwesigwa Iga
No, I think Vejle was our first convening years.

Kasumi Ito
Ifd also ask you the General Assembly of World Network in 2009. I think it was held in Kampala. Did you serve some role to make the General Assembly?

Daniel Mwesigwa Iga
The role I can say because I was already now coopted on the World Network as a Board Member. I was coopted. After the World Conference was coopted on the board of the World Network.

So, when we were discussing where to hold the meeting, and I think I convinced them that it can be held in Kampala and Mental Health Uganda can be an organization to spearhead that because there was already a structure in place.

Kasumi Ito
Is there a consent that next assembly should be held in African country? Did other board members say next General Assembly should be held in Africa?

Daniel Mwesigwa Iga
Yes. They said it should be held in Africa and they were thinking which country? So, my role was to present to them that Uganda can host because already we are doing some work which they would come and see or whatever. And also, that was the time when I think we were just coming from the negotiations of the UNCRPD, of which I was a participant of the UNCRPD in the negotiations

Kasumi Ito
Yes. During the negotiation did you find other members of Users and Survivors of Psychiatry?

Daniel Mwesigwa Iga
During the negotiation of the UNCRPD? Yes. We met with Tina Minkowitz. We met with the late Gabor Gombos. Also, we met with Bhargavi who is now the Executive Director of TCI, yes Bhargavi.

Those were the users although some support people, I remember we met with Professor Amita Dhanda from Hyderabad University.

Kasumi Ito
Yes. I think it's after the Vejle.

Daniel Mwesigwa Iga
Yeah. That that conference was after Vejle, the UNCRPD negotiations were all after Vejle.

Kasumi Ito
I think to hold the General Assembly, it took so much money. How did you manage?

Daniel Mwesigwa Iga
As far as the funding is concerned, I cannot tell you much because the Secretariat at Mental Health Uganda was the one who hold all this, and the negotiations were between those. And then for me as a board member it was difficult to know. Yeah. But I came to know there was an anonymous donor, the lender was I think Open Society Foundation.

Kasumi Ito
Anonymous donor means?

Daniel Mwesigwa Iga
Somebody who didn't want to be disclosed.

Kasumi Ito
Yes. From not only Uganda but alsoc

Daniel Mwesigwa Iga
Not from Uganda, from maybe the States side. I am not sure.

Kasumi Ito
Okay. No problem.

I would like to also ask you about the lawsuit in 2015.

Daniel Mwesigwa Iga
Okay. Yes. The lawsuit. Yes. It is called Uganda Iga Daniel versus the Attorney General, Petition 64 of 2011. You can google that.

Kasumi Ito
Yes, I already Google that. I would like to ask you about that. Firstly, who support you and who was against you?

Daniel Mwesigwa Iga
The people who supported me is a group of lawyers called CEHURD which stands for Center for Human Rights and Development. When you Google you will see.

And the people who I saw an affidavit, I looked at our Constitution and there was a lot of derogatory language. They are calling us idiots, imbeciles, people with an unsound mind, you know, labelling which kills our legal capacity and it causes us a legal death occur.

So, having had some ? I mean, participated in the UNCRPD, I felt, I found that Uganda had signed and ratified their Convention. But down the road they had not domesticated this comment into their home laws and especially that Act of 1964 which had that derogatory language.

So, I felt something had to be done. That is how we came up with that petition. Yes. And also, the National Union of Disabled Persons of Uganda also played a part. One time I remember when our colleagues who were supposed to come with in court, and we didn't have transport, and they were able to give us some transport.

Kasumi Ito
Is CEHURD international organization?

Daniel Mwesigwa Iga
No, it's a national organization of lawyers.

Kasumi Ito
Did you have connection with them before lawsuit?

How did you ask them to support you?

Daniel Mwesigwa Iga
Yeah, since they were dealing with the human rights and development, and I felt the issue was a human rights issue. So, concerning the law. I think we must have met in one of the conferences and with one of their colleagues and we talked casually, just talking casually and they picked interest into what I was saying.

Kasumi Ito
Before make the lawsuit, how did you decide to make lawsuit? Because it takes a lot of money. It takes a lot of time. It takes a lot of power to make a lawsuit.

Daniel Mwesigwa Iga
Yeah, of course, I had the ideas. But I knew these people, they promised to support me legally. I was not going to pay any funds, but only to give them information. And for them as lawyers, they would put it into the legal language and also advocate for that and file the petition and do everything because it was an organization also for human rights.

So it was not stressful to me that I need to have a lot of money and do this and this because you are going to put everything. The legal process.

Kasumi Ito
Who was against you?

Daniel Mwesigwa Iga
I wouldn't say there was somebody against me. Because this was a public litigation. A public litigation, and it is really being a public litigation. And the Attorney General is the one who stands in on behalf of government. Yeah, so I wouldn't say there was anybody really against me, but I found there were gaps within the constitution which had to be addressed.

Kasumi Ito
At the file of the petition, I found law which are penal code and the trial on indictment. Yeah. But I cannot find that Mental Health Law at that file.

Daniel Mwesigwa Iga
The trial and indictment act?

Kasumi Ito
yes, I found the name of the law penal code and trial and indictment act, but I cannot find the Mental Health Act at that file.

Daniel Mwesigwa Iga
You wanted to know the act which we are contesting against. Yes, that is the Treatment Act. You Google Treatment Act of 1964.

Kasumi Ito
Yes, Treatment Act in 1964 is actually youc

Daniel Mwesigwa Iga
It is I think not Mental Treatment Act.

Kasumi Ito
Okay. So, that law was exactly you tried to fight.

Daniel Mwesigwa Iga
Yes. Because of the language they were using there.

Kasumi Ito
Yes, yes. And I think it was changed inc

Daniel Mwesigwa Iga
In 2019, there is a new act now which has come onboard. It must be. And this time which is called the Mental Health Act.

Kasumi Ito
So, name was also changed

Daniel Mwesigwa Iga
Yes, the name was changed because the other one was just on treatment, Mental Act. But Mental Health is big. It goes beyond treatment.

It is 2018. So, this is the Mental Health Act 2018.

Kasumi Ito
So, the content, not only the language, content of the Mental Health Act also changed at the time.

Daniel Mwesigwa Iga
In 2018? Yes, of course the language changed, and they put in also a clause about human rights. Yeah, although it is still not on the standards as of the UNCRPD, but it is a better law than the other one. At least there is a legislation in place. I think they are now thinking about putting up regulations and policy, Mental Health Policy.

Kasumi Ito
How long does it take from the start of the petition to end of the petition.

Daniel Mwesigwa Iga
The petition, it was 2011

Kasumi Ito
It started 2011.

Daniel Mwesigwa Iga
When did we get a ruling ? that was 2011 and then we got a ruling in.

You can easily Google that and get the time when the ruling was therec

In 2011.

Kasumi Ito
So, it takes about four years.

Daniel Mwesigwa Iga
It was 2011 to 2014. Yeah, it took some bit of time because that was a year just after elections, so they were dealing with election of the President and Members of Parliament, so they were dealing with political cases first, then ours was later. It was in 2011. I think when you Google, you will find out.

Kasumi Ito
It took about four years because it was just after the election parliament.

Daniel Mwesigwa Iga
Election of presidential elections and the members of parliament. So there were a number of political cases in the Constitutional Court. So they had some time to deal with those ones before they dealt with ours.

Kasumi Ito
So, then there is an election and the number of the petition become increased? I want to know how election influence the petition.

Daniel Mwesigwa Iga
No, the hearing, because the judges who hear these cases for the political cases are almost the same judges in the Constitutional Court. Yeah, so they could not do things together. Here they are similar judges.

Kasumi Ito
So judge becomes busy at that time.

Daniel Mwesigwa Iga
Yes, the judges were quite busy.

Kasumi Ito
How many times did you have to go to court?

Daniel Mwesigwa Iga
I think the court we went three times. The first time was the filing in the case, then the second time there was a hearing. Yes.

Kasumi Ito
Hearing to you.

Daniel Mwesigwa Iga
Yeah, of course there were ? the first hearing, yes, when the lawyers present the case, this and that and what and what. Then the second hearing, that's when they begin asking questions.

Kasumi Ito
Did other person also go for hearing other than you?

Daniel Mwesigwa Iga
Other people? Friends. Yeah, some peers. At least we used to go to court around maybe I can say approximately about 10 and also the program officer for human rights in NUDIPU.

Kasumi Ito
Do you mean 10 members is members of the Mental Health Uganda?

Daniel Mwesigwa Iga
It was not Mental Health Uganda only. There were some members from Mental Health Uganda. There were some members from ? by that time there was a peer organization called Heart Sounds Uganda.

Kasumi Ito
Is it organization person with psychosocial disabilities?

Daniel Mwesigwa Iga
Yes, a peer support organization.

Kasumi Ito
Is it national?

Daniel Mwesigwa Iga
No it was not national, it was community based, of which by that time I was the chairman.

Kasumi Ito
When Heart Sounds Uganda was established?

Daniel Mwesigwa Iga
Thatfs escaping my mind. Around 2010. It was a new organization.

Kasumi Ito
After the petition, how did you involved in changing the role of Mental Health Act?

Daniel Mwesigwa Iga
No, after the petition there were a number of times we were called. You interviewed Robinah? So many times I was with Robinah. They used to call us in a number of workshops when they were drafting mental health.

At that time it was the Health Bill here, it was not an Act yet. It was Mental Health Bill.

Kasumi Ito
At the workshop, you discussed about the Health Bill. At this workshop you discussed on the contents of that bill.

Daniel Mwesigwa Iga
The contents. So, yes, in these workshops yes, we would discuss the contents of that bill, yeah.

Kasumi Ito
Itfs Government member, parliament members participated in it?

Daniel Mwesigwa Iga
At first more so it was Ministry of Health, people from Ministry of Health, people from the National Mental Health, Hospitals that is Butabika yes, and also scholars from Makerere University, Law Department, and Psychology. Yes.

Kasumi Ito
So, it should be big workshop. I think it is very big workshop because so important person come.

Daniel Mwesigwa Iga
Yeah.

Kasumi Ito
How many times did you hold such a meeting?

Daniel Mwesigwa Iga
Such workshops, I cannot really tell you number of them. Those I remember most were three, then another fourth one with the office of the human rights.

Kasumi Ito
National Human Rights.

Daniel Mwesigwa Iga
United Nations Office of the Human Rights, they were also there. Then later we had also just a representative from the National Hospital, Butabika is a forensic psychiatrist and meeting us. And also, I think that meeting was funded by the Disability Rights Fund, the DRF.

Kasumi Ito
Is there difference of opinion among participants?

Daniel Mwesigwa Iga
Yes there was. Of course we us and the psychiatrist has their own view because they wanted a number of things to be left there. What can I call it? I can commit coercive treatment. Like host admissions and also the use of ECT, electroconvulsive therapy which for us we were against.

Kasumi Ito
Do you think the main issue of the discussion at that time?

Daniel Mwesigwa Iga
We were discussing article by article in that we were discussing. Yes.

Kasumi Ito
Did lawyers or Ministry of Health support you or support hospitalfs opinion? Did lawyers and ministry who participated in the workshop, which part did they support? Which part? You orc

Daniel Mwesigwa Iga
Of course, they would listen and here it's difficult for them to commit themselves. Most of the lawyers were on our side. But again, the Ministry of Health officials could not really show sides because now we are consumers of health services and there the psychiatrists are also the service providers. And yet we are all under the same ministry, so they will not easily show this and that, so you have got to judge. Yes.

Kasumi Ito
After the law became ? Mental Health Law is established, the situation was changed or not? Do you think situation is changed after the law become established?

Daniel Mwesigwa Iga
After the law was established? Yeah. Off course now the way they handle the patients, they know they are rights holders and I think they have gone on trying to go to their staff, to see, to read that. At least they handle our patients as human beings and who have their rights to be observed.

Kasumi Ito
So, situation became better?

Daniel Mwesigwa Iga
It is progressing. It is going on. There are still some problems here and there. But I feel it is a better. It is on the way.

Kasumi Ito
Your clinic is for psychiatric clinic? General?

Daniel Mwesigwa Iga
It is general.

Kasumi Ito
Can I ask about here? Can I ask you about here?

Daniel Mwesigwa Iga
This is part of your study?

Kasumi Ito
Yes, yes. Because I want to know about your history, how did you become involved in the movement and what is your work?

Daniel Mwesigwa Iga
Professionally, I am a Senior Medical Clinical Officer. So after I had worked for hospitals and nurse centers, I felt I would make my own thing whereby I can work at my own pace.

Kasumi Ito
Okay, so you started your own. When did you start to open here?

Daniel Mwesigwa Iga
The idea of having a community was way back in around 2004. I began a small clinic in Mengo and then later I found the rent was quite exorbitant, it was difficult for me to run with the very heavy rent. As a family we had purchased this land. So, we took a loan and tried to set up a structure here. So we settled in here. Twelve years. We were here in 2010.

Kasumi Ito
So you served here as a Clinical Officer.

Daniel Mwesigwa Iga
Yes. Senior Medical Officer.

Kasumi Ito
This is the town area of Uganda I think.

Daniel Mwesigwa Iga
No, it is I would say semi-urban. Because it is near Kampala but on the suburbs.

Kasumi Ito
The situation of the person with social disabilities is different between town area and rural area.

I asked you whether here is town or rural, because I think there is a difference between town area and rural area on the situation of person with psychosocial disabilities.

Daniel Mwesigwa Iga
Yes, there are differences because in the town area, the services and mental health services are near them. People with psychosocial disabilities, they can access nearby hospitals, get to hospitals easily. Also, some of them come from well-to-do families so they can get other services like counselling which are paid for, unlike in the rural areas where mental health services are quite a distance. Maybe you will find them in a regional far hospitals. And now, they are trying to put health in the cause, but they are not very, very active.

Kasumi Ito
Even here access to the hospital is difficult? Even here can people access mental health service? Is it difficult?

Daniel Mwesigwa Iga
Within the town settings? Around here? No it's not difficult because Mulago Hospital has a mental health unit. And also the National Referral Butabika I think also has it. I think those are within the Kampala settings, so it is easy to access them.

Kasumi Ito
Okay. I think I heard almost all questions I wanted to ask you. Do you have anything to add?

Daniel Mwesigwa Iga
I donft think there is much. I just want to thank you for taking the interest into psychosocial disability. And we hope that this research you are making will also help to inform the psychosocial disability worldwide and it will help us in future.

Kasumi Ito
Thank you so much. I will stop here.


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