Kampala International University (KIU) has been forced to withdraw a requirement for nursing and midwifery students to take a pregnancy test before sitting their board exams.
In a notice, the institution directed all female nurses and midwives to go to KIU-TH for a pregnancy test at a fee of 5000 UGX paid to the hospital accounts office.
“Failure to do so, you will not sit for UNMEB (Uganda Nurses and Midwives Examinations Board) exams,” read the notice.
The directive caused an uproar on social media after Ugandan epidemiologist Catherine Kyobutungi, who is executive director of the African Population and Health Research Center (APHRC), shared a photo of the notice on Twitter.
“This is total hogwash, discriminatory and unacceptable. Female nursing and midwifery students being asked to take a pregnancy test, at their own cost as a pre-condition for sitting exams is peak nonsense!!!” she wrote.
Women’s rights organization FIDA Uganda wrote a letter to the university reminding the institution that Article 33 (3) of the country’s Constitution “grants protection of women and their rights, taking into account their unique status and natural maternal functions in society and this same article further prohibits discrimination of women and guarantees their full and equal dignity of the person with men.”
Following the backlash, the university announced the internal memo on pregnancy and pregnancy testing dated November 8th had been rescinded.
“Please focus on getting ready for your UNMEB exams. I wish you all the best in the forthcoming exams,” said Prof. Frank Kaharuza, deputy vice-chancellor of the university’s Western Campus.
In a replying letter to FIDA Uganda, the university promised that “no student will be stopped from sitting their exams because they have not taken a pregnancy test.”