In December 2019, we were celebrating our grand entrance to the new year. However, at the same time a virus that has since consumed most of people’s lives on the different continents was also being birthed in Wuhan-China known as the Corona Virus. On January 30th 2020, the World Health Organization declared it a Global COVID-19 Pandemic. This virus has been traced to the 1960’s where it attacked chicken causing mild respiratory complications. It was then seen in 2003 as the SARS pandemic, where 8000 cases and 774 deaths were registered. This was followed by the MERS corona virus in 2012 that registered 2519 cases and 866 deaths. These viruses, due to mutation, are spread from animals like: cats, camels, bats among others to humans, when there is close contact. The Novel Corona virus of 2019 has so far registered over 10 million cases and 510,000 deaths globally as of June 30th 2020. It is transmitted through water droplets and contact with infected persons. The symptoms present as mild; cough, flu, fever, generalized body weakness, and severe respiratory distress, and damage to other body organs. Various measures and guidelines have been set up by the World Health Organization to curb the spread of COVID-19. These include; washing hands with soap regularly, using hand sanitizers, avoid touching the T area (eyes, nose and mouth), wearing a mask, and above all staying at home (the lock-down) among others.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), health is defined as a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being, not merely the absence of disease or infirmity. My story shall focus on how the COVID 19 pandemic has affected the health of a Ugandan drawing from the economic and social aspect.
One of the factors that is necessary for a healthy lifestyle is being financially stable. The Pandemic has played a big role in freezing the economies on the African continent and my country Uganda has not been an exception. The lock-down meant that I had to stop working, and stay at home. Because I had no income anymore, I had to reduce my meals from four to three and later to two so as to save for the following days. However, I witnessed people starve, or have one meal a day. We hoped each day for a savior – wheat flour and beans from the government. However, even when it was distributed, we did not receive it. I watched people get malnourished because they lacked food nutrients while others died of hunger. Why? Because we are not working, we have no money and so we could not afford being healthy.
The lockdown has been eased and some of the sectors and businesses are beginning to operate. To me, this has been like a dream come true. I was so excited to resume making money. However, the reality is a nightmare. I have to wake up every morning knowing that I have to walk to work due to high transport fares. At work, I have to sit the whole day without receiving any customer because people can’t afford things any more. On the other hand, people are being laid off from work because their bosses have no money to pay them. To make it worse, the land lords think that we are working so they demand for rent. I know that it’s not just me, but every Ugandan out there is economically stunted and therefore mentally unhealthy because of this Corona Virus Pandemic.
Measures to combat the COVID-19 pandemic like the lock-down destabilized the normal way of living of society. It cut short access to social services, especially transport services. This meant that we who were starving in the cities could not go to our villages where food is in plenty. To make matters worse, women who were pregnant, cancer patients who needed medication and follow-up would not easily access hospitals because of lack of transport means. Mothers lost their children on their way to hospitals, and in instances, where they improvised and used motorcycles, they were shot at by some LDUs. I personally feared to go for medical checkup because I feared that the doctors may spread the virus to me. Parents out there were unable to take their children for immunization, and this poses a threat to their health. This has all been birthed by the COVID-19 Pandemic.
The Ministry of Health in Uganda has managed to work out measures to see that the infected people recover. However, the recovered patients are being shunned by the public. This virus has brought about stigmatization of recovered patients hence causing poor mental health for them.
As I conclude, the COVID-19 Pandemic has affected the health of a Ugandan greatly in terms of mental, physical and social well-being. Whatever has/is happening is the first of its kind, and has not segregated among the rich and the poor Ugandans. It has frozen religious, cultural and recreational activities that the people hold dearly. However, we still hope that our health shall be completely stabilized when everything goes back to normal. #Stories4Health