KAMPALA, Jan. 5 (Xinhua) — Uganda has allowed middle-aged savers who are struggling during the COVID-19 pandemic to access their social security savings.

“A member who is 45 years of age and above and who has made contributions to the fund for at least 10 years, is eligible to midterm access to his or her benefits, of a sum not exceeding 20 percent of his or her accrued benefits,” Betty Amongi, minister of Gender, Labor and Social Development told reporters here on Wednesday. Persons with disabilities, who are 40 years old and have paid for their social security for at least 10 years, are also eligible to access up to 50 percent of their savings, she said.

The parliament introduced the National Social Security Fund Amendment Bill in 2020 to help workers access their savings to pay their hospital bills for COVID-19 treatment. President Yoweri Museveni signed it on Sunday. At least 113,000 people are eligible for access, according to the fund, with assets valued at 15.6 trillion shilling (about 4.5 billion U.S. dollars).