A big number of people in Uganda are disregarding the Ministry of Health’s guidelines and Standard Operating Procedures simply because these people don’t feel that there is a real threat hence regarding COVID-19 pandemic as a scum and this is supported by most of their political leaders who have decided to preach drinking of water while themselves opting for wine. This is evident through the dishonesty of the government officials and who have visibly used the pandemic to steal and embezzle funds from the government coffers depicted through the continuous inflation of price of essential equipment like; face masks and the distribution of radios and TVs plus food that has either not reached the people or never been given at all
By Bukenya Denis Joseph
Politics and the Myths Around COVID-19 Pandemic Affecting the Right to Health
Uganda is in a state of uncertainty in terms of health security due to the skyrocketing COVID-19 global pandemic cases being reported. The levels of infections and the associated deaths are continuously raising putting the numbers, on 19 September 2020, at 5,266 confirmed cases and 60 deaths, (Health, 2020). According to Worldometer, in the same day Uganda has 5,380 confirmed cases, 2,489 recovered cases, and 60 deaths, (Worldometer, 2020). Amidst the raising numbers of infections and deaths, there is still a wide spread of misconceptions and myths about COVID-19 pandemic among the masses in the country. These rotate around the non-existence of the pandemic and unfortunately these misconceptions have been stirred by political activities where masses of people have physically engaged themselves in political activities like: political rallies and elections. Above all most of these people are disregarding the Ministry of Health’s guidance and Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs).
On 3rd April 2020 in his opening remarks at the media briefing on Covid-19, Dr. Tedros Adhanom, the World Health Organisation (WHO) Director General, highlighted the need for countries and partners to strengthen the health systems foundations through providing health facilities with reliable supply of funding for medical supplies, meeting health workers requirements like salaries, and personal protective equipment. He also called upon countries to remove financial barriers to health care as it creates delay and people forego care because they can’t afford it making the pandemic harder to control hence putting society at risk, (Organisation, 2020)
As several countries are suspending user fees and providing free testing and care for COVID-19, regardless of a person’s insurance, citizenship, or residence status, in Uganda the ministry of health is putting in place COVID-19 testing fees for cross boarder truck drivers and individuals volunteering to test. In simple terms this means that free testing is left only for admitted patients or already infected persons and their contacts. With great appreciation to this country’s financial challenges, where is the purpose of doing a COVID-19 test if one is already admitted for the same cause? I think this is going to exclude all people who are COVID-19 asymptomatic and also lack the capacity to pay for the tests where by a considerable number of Ugandans belong to this cluster.
In an effort to actualize health as a fundamental human right and put the Health for All agenda (set by the Alma Ata declaration in 1978) in WHO’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) there should be equity to health access, quality health service, and protection against financial risk all pointing to the Universal Health Care (UHC), (Organisation, 2020). It is every one’s responsibility to pay attention and fight COVID-19 pandemic by following the health guidelines. However, the state owes all the citizens a responsibility of due care by its self-abiding by the set health guidelines and also being fair and considering all citizens despite of their statuses. If political leaders and policy makers in this country continue doing contrary to their teachings, then they shouldn’t expect the population to have confidence in the set national guidance and laws.
Health, U. M. (2020, September 19). Ministry of Health. Retrieved from Ministry of Health: https://www.health.go.ug/covid/
Oganisation, W. H. (2020, September 19). Health systems. Retrieved from World Health Oganisation: https://www.who.int/healthsystems/universal_health_coverage/en/
Organisation, W. H. (2020, September 19). Director General. Retrieved from World Health Organisation: https://www.who.int/dg/speeches/detail/who-director-general-s-opening-remarks-at-the-media-briefing-on-covid-19–3-april-2020
Worldometer. (2020, September 19). Coronavirus. Retrieved from Worldometer: https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/#countries/