COVID-19

The unending lockdown: covid19 pandemic and family dynamics

Who is benefiting from the extended lockdown?
What is the state of the economy?
What is the state of the donations to the national task force?
How are people surviving in their homes during this lockdown?
What is the state of people’s homes?
What counseling services are available to the public?

For the majority of Ugandans, the economic conditions are tough. People are at home with their young ones, but have no answers to the tough questions like ‘Daddy, what do we cook for lunch today?’  Some companies like schools are said to have not yet paid the teachers and administration staff for April 2020.

Many other people have lost their jobs. People just wait for the relief food to arrive – there is no notification of which villages to visit, there is no official portal or forum or communication of how food rations and distribution shall be made. It becomes difficult to plan for the free food. How is government monitoring and helping people amid this lockdown?

As of today, 19th May 2020, covid19 confirmed cases currently stand at 260, of which 63 people have fully recovered and no reported coronavirus related death in Uganda. This is great news. That means so far in Uganda the #covid19 case mortality rate is 0%. But how many people are dying from hunger, and other diseases like malaria, and other diseases?

Are face masks the only better strategy to prevent the spread? The last time I checked, I learned that viruses are too small, so smaller like atoms, if I may say. This means they can pass through your typical face mask since many have bigger holes. So, who has checked the quality of the face masks on sale in Uganda? Do they meet the standard quality? Does Uganda Drug Authority vet all shops selling the face masks? What kind of quality mark should customers look out for at pharmacies or other shops licensed to sell such a critical product? What about sanitizers?

The best thing to enable access to essential services and products during a period of a pandemic like this is to provide clear product specifications, and if possible, the maximum selling price, and let anyone who can provide the service or the product. It is very wrong for the government to be vendor-specific by stating a particular company to make the product when aware that they probably lack capacity in terms of equipment, workers and other logistics to deliver enough products to meet demand. Since cargo has been allowed to move, let anyone make the product available whether they import or not as long as the quality specifications are met, and the general public is not exploited.

So, what the specifications for the ideal healthy face masks that prevent the spread of the coronavirus? What is the government doing to establish mechanisms to ‘live with the virus’ instead of playing the wait and see the game?

People want to know the government’s economic stimulus package. What is in store?

As it stands, it appears the economy opened for some people as the rest of the Ugandans are still holed up in their homes waiting for the removal of the lockdown.  The government should not make it expensive for people who comply with national laws, regulations, and directives.

My take is that the government should open the economy now. Let us get back to work. The rest, as they say, shall take care of themselves. Let us first find money to buy food, then we can worry about #covid19. Since we now understand the challenges of the virus, how it spreads, and how to stop it, the government should provide such guidelines and put more effort in their enforcement. Instead, more investment should be done to upgrade referral hospitals at district levels, health centers throughout the country such that the movement of people to attend healthcare is limited and cases can be contained at sub-county and district levels.

The issue of covid19 overwhelming health services shall be addressed. Instead of huge monster vehicles that are likely to drive fuel consumption and lead to more costs to the already burdened health system, small tuk-tuk style of motorcycles should be locally modified and supplied to all health centers to ease patient movements.

Such intervention shall save the country a fortune, reduce the risk of local infections.

Copyright Mustapha B Mugisa, 2020. All rights reserved.

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