As of March 19, 33 African countries had reported more than 600 cases and 17 deaths due to COVID-19, the disease caused by the new corona virus. More than 40 people have recovered.
From the beginning of the pandemic, the World Health Organisations warned of the risk that COVID-19 will have on Africa where there are weak health systems, poor sanitation facilitates, water scarcity and urban crowding. These pose additional challenges to the fight and prevention of the COVID-19.
On the 19th Of March 2020, MTN Uganda issued a cut down on their tariffs and put aside 500 million Uganda shillings towards the fight of COVID-19. Airtel Uganda as well, removed transaction charges for the next 30 days of the lock down. On the same day, Solidarity Uganda took food supplies to the quarantined Ugandans at the Central Inn-Entebbe as a sign of standing in Solidarity with them. A gesture of our collective responsibility and ubuntu-ness as a Country.
While we cannot come together and radically serve the community, sharing in society responsibility is going to be a great resource for Ugandans in the face of the corona virus pandemic. Ubuntu will help us serve our communities better beyond the selfishness that usually engulfs us in the face of capitalistic and monopolized survival. We are only going to survive if we acknowledge each other’s contribution to society. I am because you are—Ubuntu. In that spirit, we will be more responsive in practicing measures that not only benefit us as individuals but as a society.
With our health care institutions in dire need of revamping to prepare them for the outbreak and a lack of rapid response units in every district, there will be a need for doctors and nurses to volunteer their time and resources in the coming months. Arguably, Uganda even in the presence of meager resources has managed to put up measures to contain the pandemic. The Ministry of Health has been critical to quarantine people coming into the country with 14 Europeans exiting for refusal of being quarantined.
Crises have a way of making us realize our unity as Ugandans. We have weathered a lot of crises together as a nation. We went through the World Cup Final Bombings, the Budo Fire, the Ebola Outbreak and recently the Boat Cruise sink-in as a unit. We can only but win the outbreak of COVID-19 as a unit. Let us rally around washing hands and providing clean water to vulnerable and less advantage people in our communities. We can also adhere to the lock down and protect our families. Small efforts will help us in avoiding exposure and also save lives.
During this time our success stories will be in the collective responsibility and togetherness. Our efforts towards working together will be the highlight in the fight of COVID-19. It is this collective responsibility that has helped us survive other pandemics like Ebola, Marburg and HIV/AIDS in the past.
Uganda registered a COVID-19 case over the weekend and it is in our combined effort that we can work towards reducing the possibility of a spread of the disease.
Tricia Gloria Nabaye
Resident Research Associate-GREAT LAKES INSTITUTE FOR STRATEGIC STUDIES.