Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | As the country awaits President Yoweri Museveni’s COVID-19 update this Thursday, a team of experts are calling on the government to fix the pandemic management gaps and return peoples’ lives to normal.
The experts included; Sonia Elijah, former BBC Researcher and investigative journalist, with a background in economics, Sarah Bireete, a lawyer and executive director at Center for Constitutional Governance and Simon Senyonga, a lawyer.
They were speaking at the third virtual townhall meeting titled; COVID-19 and the media: Have they given us all we must know about the pandemic on Monday this week, moderated by Lucy Chihandae, podcaster and author.
Among others, the experts identified the growing trend of people flouting COVID-19 standard operating procedures of social distancing, washing hands and sanintizing, which they attributed largely to responsible government agencies failure to implement.
For instance, there have been increasing numbers of people moving beyond curfew hours; more happening places like bars and restaurants operating in total disregard of the Covid-19 guidelines, transport companies not obeying passenger carriage capacities and more.
Elijah noted that, whereas lockdowns were embraced by governments across the world as practical solutions to the pandemic management, governments that have not yet invested heavily in mass vaccinations must up their game to ensure full reopening up of their economies.
She cited European countries that quickly moved to allocate funds and vaccinate their citizens, as having started getting their economies back to normal on top of administering a jab booster.
Simon Senyonga, a lawyer, urged media houses to lead with strong messages on vaccination as a means to beat the disease. He also urged regular panelists on television and radio programmes to pass on covid messages that promote vaccination while at the same time encourage people to observe coronavirus SOPs.
Bireete said, the government needs to strengthen the healthcare system, infrastructure, and information sharing to better manage the pandemic and bring back life to normal.
“We also need science to inform us about the risks involved in managing the entire COVID-19 pandemic,” Bireete said.
Bireete supports strongly vaccination given that the culture of Africans calls for socialization, which makes it difficult to social distance.
“I’m an advocate of total opening up and of keeping safe,” she said.
These virtual townhall meetings, are run under ‘The End Lockdown Platform’ which were started with a view of fostering discussion towards the full opening up of the country and prepare the people to live with covid like any other disease.
Uganda’s entertainment industry and education system remains largely locked with many people out of the job.
The country has set a target of 4.8million people to be vaccinated (with the first and second doze) by the end of December to allow further easing of the lockdown.
As of Oct.25, the country had administered 2.8million total dozes, recorded 96,589 cumulative recoveries. Test positivity rate was 2.1%.