Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Medical workers in the private sector have asked the government to consider a benchmarking study from its neighbours; Tanzania and Burundi, to see how it can open up the economy even in the face of coronavirus disease.
The president of the Society of Uganda Private Medical Practitioners Dr Lulume Bayiga said that it is going to be an uphill task to convince Ugandans that the health impact of COVID-19 is as big as earlier intimated, yet the country has recorded ni no fatalities.
He argued that the two neighbouring countries have kept their economies up and running amidst the pandemic, yet no loss of lives or severely affected cases were recorded. Dr Lulume was speaking to journalists at their offices in Kawempe on Thursday.
Tanzanian president John Pombe Magufuli has been openly sceptical of everything pandemic-related. Even though he closed schools and banned public gatherings, the other sectors remained open, and argued against closing churches and mosques.
Last month, Magufuli triggered conspiracy theories after he said fruits and other nonliving objects he had had secretly sent to the laboratory had come back positive for COVID-19, a move which was followed by opening up the economy, even for tourists, under normal and regular pre-COVID border rules. The last tally in Tanzania was slightly over 500 cases and 16 deaths by early May.
Meanwhile Burundi also downplayed COVID-19 fears by running through a campaign and holding a general election, without restrictions. The country’s leadership maintain that Burundi is a country blessed by God and therefore needed not to quake because of a virus.
But the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Health Dr Diana Atwiine told URN that the said countries are deliberately hiding data related to COVID-19, a mistake that Uganda is not about to make.
Meanwhile, medical practitioners also raised an alarm over what they called a deliberate act by the government ‘to neglect private players in the health sector’ amidst the COVID-19 fight. Dr Lulume said that many of their members suffered immensely during the early months of the lockdown while the government focused on only those in public facilities.
But Atwiine said that the government tried to take care of practitioners in both public and private facilities, even though the support could not cover practitioners everywhere.