Army fails to hit recruitment target in Lira as hundreds of applicants test positive for STDs

The recruitment exercise failed to hit the target

The recruitment exercise failed to hit the target

The Uganda People’s Defense Forces (UPDF) recruitment team in Lira has failed to meet its target after a high number of the applicants tested positive for sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).

The two-day exercise was targeting 495 recruits from the districts of Amolatar, Alebtong, Otuke, Dokolo, and Lira. However, only 299 applicants passed the test.

The applicants were subjected to written and physical exercises including a five-kilometre run and medical tests for high blood pressure, hepatitis b, HIV and other STDs like syphilis and gonorrhoea. Those found to be positive were automatically disqualified.

Steven Mugerwa, the recruitment team leader in Lira says the general turn-up was high but most candidates, especially females were disqualified after they tested positive for different illnesses, mostly STDs. Only 44 female applicants passed the test at the end of the exercise on Friday evening.

"Although the number was big, we were challenged but we managed them. Many people here have been disappointed - with different diseases like gonorrhoea, syphilis, hepatitis b and others which we found in them. So I am appealing to people, let them go and check themselves and they know their status, let them continue with drugs, next recruitment they will come back and we shall recruit them," said Mugerwa.

Other candidates were disqualified on grounds that they have fake academic documents, had physical disabilities and were of advanced age. Mugerwa is, however, concerned that despite the disqualifications, fewer females are generally showing interest in joining the force.

"The turn up of women was very small. And the ones who turned up were affected by very many diseases. The target was 59 per cent," he added.

But Winifred Constance Akello, a secondary school teacher who graduated from college early this year, believes that the process was not fair because she was disqualified even without checking her academic documents.

Kizito Edola, a resident of Dokolo also missed the chance because he arrived late at the recruitment venue while Peter Odongo, a resident of Lira district was disqualified because there is a mismatch in his date of birth on the national ID card and academic documents. Successful candidates have been transported to Kaweweta Recruit Training School, in Nakaseke district.

© 2016 Observer Media Ltd