OpED

OPINION: Is Uganda’s health sector pitiful?

A health worker dressed collects swab samples from a truck driver to be tested for coronavirus at the Elegu border point (PHOTO /Courtesy)

KAMPALA — The COVID-19 pandemic in Uganda is part of the ongoing worldwide pandemic of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

According to WHO, it is caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2).

The virus was confirmed to have reached Uganda in March 2020. It’s now exactly one year and three months when we are with this virus. We had anticipated that by now we would be doing implimentation of the plan as opposed to fire fighting which appears to be the case in point as things stand today.

Under the guidance of scientists spearheaded by the ministry of health, the president took us to a lockdown which was the first of it’s kind in our time, here we surely locked ouselves up in anticipation of the anger of the lord to passby. This we did religiously and HE at one time referred to us (Ugandans) as pearls.

We gave our government all the support including fundraising in anticipation of a better management of the pandemic ahead of time with the hope that the ministry of health was in charge. Unfortunately in one way or another at one time it turned into a loot bonanza with our very own members of Parliament claiming a share of the same! As they say, now the rest of this story forms part of our history.

The government promised us that all was well and the health sector was ready to pull the bull by it’s horns. To an extent, yes, people got treated of Covid19 and healed, my self inclusive. It’s only a few who died as a result of Covid19.We went on and had an election campaign and elections were held and now we are almost done with the formation of a new government since almost all the swearing ins are done with. But wait a minute, guess what, Ugandans lowered their guard almost entirely forgetting all about SOPs and hoped that miraculously we had defeated Covid19 as a result of God because people were no longer falling sick and dying of corona.

As a country (Uganda) we had a flat curve and we were getting praises world over for having done very well in the fight against Corona.

Though the president did not come out to lift us out of the lockdown fully,we unlocked our selves and bars started operating under the protection of the law enforcers in full knowledge of the leaders coupled with orders from above.

Public transport operators and passengers alike forgot all about SOPs and loaded full board, schools opened without strict adherence to SOPs, social gatherings of funerals and marriages went back to “normal” with silent discos trendingfor the young people etc.

All this was done under the watchful eyes of our ministry of health and the entire government machinery with little or reluctant caution from the ministry of health to keep in check the law enforcement team, and literally the Covid19 national task force was in abeyence!

Fast forward, a bang, boom! We are in the second wave, people are falling sick and dying in big numbers and all is nothing but panic! Students get stranded in taxi and bus parks , transport fares sky rocket and Ugandans get real cheated! as people rash to villages from the capital Kampala. Here Colonel Nakalema came in, though late but at least government was felt as alternative means of transport was provided for some of the stranded students to be taken home at no cost.

The president once again took us back to a second lock down of forty two (42) days restricting us to our districts only that the situation did not change and he opted to put us under total lockdown. He told us forty two days and so far we have thirty eight to go!

The health ministry is charged with taking care of our health as a country. Under this pandemic it had been anticipated that all that is required to manage and control Covid19 would be in place but unfortunately it’s not the case.. I have personally interacted with many people and the image painted appears like going to hospital, is equivalent to a death trap. Many medical practitioners have tested positive and it appears as if It’s better to be treated from home.unde rthe Home Based Care for Covid 19 is taking prominence.

Now we are moving to the herbal dominated treatment at home for both medical practitioners and us the non medical practioners alike!. The details of happenings show stories of many hospitals running out of oxygen and hospital beds, coupled with the exhorbitant costs where patients are being fleeced in private health facilities as dominating the air waves! The vaccination intended for the front line workers in real terms it more or less failed to be achieved as had been anticipated.

Even when there was a surge for vaccination as a result of the Covid19 second wave, the ministry immediately ran out of vaccines! Oh! what can I say!

The ministry of health is expected to be having the records of every Ugandan who took either a first or second jab when it carried out the vaccination of the front line workers. Today as we talk, the social media and the mainstream media is ripe with all sorts of conspiracies surrounding the vaccines and the vaccination. It’s quite disheartening that our scientists are not able to come out and explain to us candidily what exactly it is , that is bringing out these conspiracies, save for them waiting to tell us what WHO is to say! Iam wondering why doesn’t the ministry of health reach out to each individual person who was vaccinated because I think they are less than 500,000 in number, who were vaccinated and tell us the state of affairs of each person so that we may know the statistics of those who were badly affected by the vaccine,those who died as a result of the vaccine and those who are very okay despite having taken the vaccine.

Then there after tell us their conclusion of findings.

To the contrary what the Ministry is doing now is to stamped people to take the second jab even when there’s no assurance that it’s a solution to avoid contracting the virus! This leaves me wondering why is the ministry lazy at following up it’s people in such a pandemic to know and share with the public the current state of affairs as regards vaccination for us to take an informed choice of vaccination. Instead of focusing on how to control the spread of Covid19 by use of the imported vaccine and fully understanding it’s impact on those who used it, now we are being consumed into how much money will the vulnerable get or who is to get a motor vehicle sticker and who is not to get!! Kina Uganda kinyuma!
From a sociological point of view the society is under going a lot of stress but by the look of things it’s like our leaders in charge are more or less bent at fire fighting as opposed to finding out the real solutions to the challenges of the day!

The hospitals do not have specialized social workers or counsellors to handle Covid19 patients save for them receiving medical treatment without mental preparedness before, during and after falling sick with Covid19. The state of mental health of our people has to be taken care of as a matter of urgency or else we risk seeing more mad people on the streets, experiencing increase in violence in homes etc etc.

Corona is most likely here to stay for a longer time than it had may be been anticipated, there’s even a possibility of us experiencing a third wave, the question is ; shall we be starting all over again every time we are hit hard? I don’t want to delve into the statistics of those who have died due to covid-19 and those who have recovered from the same.

All am saying, can we as the citizens of this country called Uganda feel and see the people who are charged with management of such epidemics comfort us and raise our expectations that indeed they are in charge and things are getting better day by day, for us to have more trust in our healthy system and diffuse the conspiracies associated with Covid19 which is flying all around us.
I thank you.

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The writer, Busobozi Godfrey, is a social worker and an educationist.
[email protected]

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