The author is a journalist with ABS Television
The outbreak of Covid 19 in Uganda greatly increased the levels of poverty and mental illness especially in poor communities mostly ghettos and in low income earners.
The poverty was as a result of the imposed lockdown which didn’t only take away an opportunity to earn but also brought about hunger, stress and other mental illness.
Being a social, economic and health issue it calls for combated effects from government, private sector and the community at large.
Alongside other very important and urgent issues on the policy radar, we need to activate the community engagement strategy and multi-level COVID-19 taskforces and decentralise some aspects of the response. Make the community partners. Build capacity for surveillance and case management at all levels.
I think home-based care now needs to be widely promoted, with clear and sufficient guidance. It was integral to Uganda’s HIV success story as was political and other (religious, cultural) leadership.
Policymakers must use research recommendations and listen to practitioners at the frontlines. In addition, they must address the infodemic and give people factual, enabling information.
It’s vital that the government provide civilians with continuous updates. The president’s leadership the first wave was great, updating, explaining and giving people guidance on what could come next. Many people listened and felt leadership was being accountable. This central platform could continue, with other actors (technical, civil society, sociocultural) being swapped to talk about issues.
Finally we must focus on national cohesion. Public support needs to be mobilised as Uganda deals with issues outside its control – like vaccine manufacturers making Uganda, among other countries, wait in a long queue. We need to have honest conversations on national health inequalities and disadvantage as well as how we attain healthcare for all. We need to learn lessons on how to balance an effective national pandemic response with preparing our different systems to better absorb unprecedented shocks.