Published in El Pais, March 6, 2021
Current Covid-19 Burden In Uganda
By March 2021, 115,289,961 confirmed cases of COVID-19, and 2,564,560 deaths globally, were reported to WHO. In Uganda, so far recorded 40,426 cases and 334 deaths due to COVID-19.
COVID-19 response activities in Uganda.
In Uganda, for only the first nine days since the first case was recorded on March 21, 2020, by March 30, the cases had risen to 33. The cases reached their peak in December 2020 due to related political activities involving mass rally campaigns in preparation for the recent 2021 elections. However, since the outbreak, the government undertook several measures to prepare and respond to the pandemic.
The first measures were to prepare its health system to respond to the outbreak right from the time World Health Orgarnisation declared COVID-19 as a global pandemic. These included organizing the public health facilities to respond to the Pandamic. This was achieved by procuring and prepositioning medical equipment, upgrading intensive care units, strengthening national laboratory testing facilities, mobilizing technical staff and other human resources, and winning political support. In addition, country went into a total lockdown at the beginning of the outbreak to prevent further spread.
Some of the critical public health response activities included; border screening, two weeks quarantine for all those traveling from abroad and suspected cases, screening at all public spaces and gatherings like markets and bus stations, enforcement of Standard Operating Procedures for prevention in the workplaces like Banks. Also, active surveillance at the community level to strengthen case detection and reporting was undertaken. The program to provide free personal protective equipmentd to the community like face masks and measures to provide tax waivers on the import of face masks and hand sanitizers were proposed. However, awareness through media, handwashing with soap and water, and appropriate use of face masks remained the critical elements of prevention at the community level.
COVID-19 vaccination In Uganda
As the COVID-19 enters its second phase, countries worldwide are preparing to vaccinate their population against the disease. Uganda plans to procure vaccines for its 18 million population out of 43 million people. There are also reports that China is planning to donate 300,000 COVID-19 vaccines to Uganda as well.
Success registered so far
Despite many flaws in measures containing the COVID-19 Outbreak, Uganda is regarded as one of the countries that had successfully managed the outbreak, especially in the first few months of the epidemic. For almost two months, Uganda had registered no deaths due to COVID-19. This was attributed to Uganda’s experience in containing related pandemics like Ebola and SARs. Also, the country acted very fast, had preparedness plans in place, and had built testing capacity of diseases like COVID-19.