COVID-19

To tame #covid19 fear, stop daily new infections scoreboard announcements

Covid19 is here to stay. The world must adjust to this reality.

When the first case of HIV/AIDS was announced, it paralyzed lifestyles and affected so many people until the world invested in research and development to understand the virus and how it spread. The findings were tough to take. It is now over 30 years, and still no vaccine nor cure for HIV/AIDS. The world moved on. The world found ways to live with the virus.

Take note of how the world managed to live with the HIV/AIDS virus:

  1. Medicines are now available on the market that helps sufferers to achieve their potential and lead good lives. The disease is no longer a direct ticket to death, as it was once, thanks to the availability of funding and support by international development like CDC, USAID to mention but two partners that channel funding through the organisation’s like Reach Out Mbuya, to help patients with essential medicines, psychosocial support, and education, where possible. Remember, the challenge with HIV/AIDS is it threatened the reproductive system – the primary vector the virus spreads in through unprotected sex.
  2. In the beginning, access to good quality condoms for safe sex was difficult for most people. The price was always high – Ugx. 10,000 for a pack of three! In a country with low incomes, they opted for the easy way – unprotected sex. With time, government-subsidized the prices, as well as through non-government organizations made condoms available for free. Today, people have learned to live with the HIV/AIDS challenge by learning to abstain or practice safe sex and for those who are married by being faithful to one another. But most importantly, the disease was managed by avoiding the stigmatization of the victims as well as focusing people’s attention away from worrying about the disease to hoping and aspiring to win in their lives.
  3. There is no daily scoreboard where the new HIV/AIDS infection cases are announced. Such a practice would make people more alarmed, worried, and frightened – a bad combination for success.

A similar approach should be adopted in dealing with the #covid19.

  1. The virus is here to stay. One way to manage it is to stop the global practice of announcing daily infections on the scoreboard – showing new cases, death rates, and projections. This approach much as it creates awareness of the pandemic is proving self-defeating. The daily announcements have overshadowed the existence of many other killer diseases in the world.  It is a fact is people die every day from so many other diseases. Stop making #covid19 happy by announcing the new infections and deaths.
  2. Despite #covid19, the world is experiencing net population growth, of this writing. Plus, there are other diseases killing people besides #covid19, facts which need to be stated to provide the full picture. Death due to other diseases like racism, car accidents, non-communicable diseases, malaria, wars, home-based violence, and more abound. Unfortunately, no one is talking about such diseases. A comprehensive daily scoreboard should be provided.
  3. Governments must provide support to their citizens by creating readiness to live with coronavirus the way the world lives with HIV/AIDS virus. Create on-going awareness, provide funding and support. People need improved sanitation and social distancing strategies. The coronavirus is no match for a strengthened immune system. The government should invest in primary healthcare, set standards for basic foods, and subsidize prices by providing support to farmers to grow the essential foods. These are medium- and long-term interventions.
  4. It is worse to die of hunger than from coronavirus. Worse to die from other diseases because one is unable to visit the health center. The world risks losing more people from hopelessness, poverty, and miserable life than from the coronavirus directly. That is what our leaders must proactively manage and avoid.

Lets tame coronavirus by stopping daily announcements of new infections. It is not helping the population. It just creates fear and hopelessness. Let’s announce the success stories – the people who have recovered. The consistent messages on managing the pandemic – basic sanitation, stay home, if you can, essential meals and vitamins needed, and other food supplements to keep the immune high. The government’s daily updates focus should error on how to prevent infection and progress made in upgrading health facilities to cope up with any number of infections through primary healthcare support and upskilling of health workers. People want to know the progress made in the acquisition of the health-related PPEs to manage the disease.

Unfortunately, so many people are now confused due to mixed messages over the efficacy of face masks in preventing covid19 infections. On one side, the virus is so small, that it can pass through any surface. And on the other side, any face mask can work in preventing the virus from dropping on your nose or mouth! There must be a stated standard specification for a quality face mask that can prevent the infection.

Otherwise, we shall continue to see people driving alone in their cars, putting a face mask which could be more deadly than the virus they are trying to prevent.

Copyright Mustapha B Mugisa, 2020. All rights reserved.

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