Will Covid-19 lead to improved healthcare system in Uganda?

A health worker checks the temperature of a traveller as part of the coronavirus screening procedure at the Kotoka International Airport in Accra, Ghana on January 30, 2020 [Francis Kokoroko/Reuters]

This Article is an Opinion of Dr Moses Tetui

Time check, 11.52pm, after downing two tots of hard liquor.

I kind of thought I would go to sleep peacefully after feeding my mind with endless Covid-19 material from across the world.

These are no usual times, one probably needs more than the usual dose of alcohol to escape reality.

But how does one achieve this with all the social distancing talk that has become second nature to literally every Ugandan albeit the hilarious variations.

Don’t drink with your friends, neighbours and enemies. Just less than two weeks ago, this domesticating of mankind, especially the male species, was unimaginable, at least in Kampala.

Schools and churches shut down even before we had a single Covid-19 case in the country. Bravo President Museveni. At least you didn’t gamble our lives with the UK herd immunity or American economy first approaches that are biting them hard now. We are taking this Covid-19 disease seriously.

However, the President is not acting alone as he has the entire security agencies unleashing violence on whoever they think is not following the presidential directives. It’s as though the dogs have been let loose.

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The Presient also has the National Covid-19 Task force by his side. Just the other day, a chairperson of a local government in the eastern Uganda took to social media to lament his difficulty with finding help for a suspected Covid-19 case.

Within a record time, he was back thanking the Ministry of Health task force for a swift response following his Facebook post. Are we at the brink of having a responsive healthcare system in Uganda?

With this kind of vigilance and seamless response, Universal Health Coverage (UHC) could just be a stone throw away. But let’s scratch the surface of this response a little bit, we might learn a thing or two that could enable us to sustain our breakneck race towards UHC coverage.

After the first presidential address to the nation over Covid-19, I knew that more actions would be taken. So I took the opportunity to dash to my countryside to run a few errands in Bukwo District.

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In Bukwo, you could sense that people were already on high alert just a day or two from the closure of the schools. Hand-washing with soap was the welcome gesture at nearly every stop that I made, as if to say, “Don’t bring your disease here, we know you Kampala people.” At Mbale Central Market, no one was allowed to enter without first washing their hands with soap. Wow, Nearly everyone was acting very responsibly.

But what is behind all this craziness that was unimaginable before the advent of Covid-19? Is it possible that we are actually capable of building a responsive healthcare system for the benefit of all people in Uganda?

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Dr Moses Tetui,


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