Ministry of health starts distribution of masks in Kampala

By Robert Segawa

The Ministry if health has started the distribution of face masks in Kampala metropolitan area.

According to permanent secretary Ministry of health Diana Atwiine says the process had to kick off last weekend but authorities in the districts of Kampala, Wakiso and Mukono requested for more time to plan their delivery.

She says the ministry has sent over five million pieces of face masks in Kampala, Wakiso and Mukono.

Dr Atwiine adds that the Ministry has so far distributed over 13 million masks in 30 districts.

Uganda Virus Research Institute says they have not received COVID-19 funds

By Alice Lubwama

The Uganda Virus research institute says that it hasn’t received any money from the government for COVID -19 activities.

While appearing before the public accounts committee of parliament chaired by Chwa west legislator Okin Ojara, the director of the institute Prof. Pontiano Kaleebu said that the institute suspended all its programs and diverted the 780 million shillings to fund COVID 19 work.

Kaleebu added that the institute presented a budget of 1.7 million dollars to the ministry of health to go towards their COVID 19 related work but that funding has never been availed.

The institute which hosts a regional referral lab on influenza has been the sole research and testing facility for COVID 19 in Uganda throughout the Pandemic.

He stated that most of the funding has come in from donors and partners like the WHO, CDC and the Jack Ma foundation.

However, Tororo South MP Fredrick Angura wondered why the institute was neglected and yet the government had availed a hefty COVID 19 response supplementary budget.

Private medics ask government for financial intervention

By Alice Lubwama

The Uganda medical and dental practitioners council is asking the government to support the private health units with salary relief and enhancements especially to the laid off staff during this challenging time of COVID 19 lock down.

While appearing before the parliamentary committee on national economy chaired by Syda Bumba to give a report on the impact of COVID 19 , the chairperson of Uganda medical and dental council Joel Okullo noted that many staffs were laid off and others sent on forced leave because the private facilities could not raise the money to pay for their services.

Okullo also appealed to government to give a tax waiver for investors who manufacture medical supplies in order to create sustainability in supplies because most of them are imported .

The council also requested the government to provide soft loans for local investors in the health sector especially those in rural areas so that the health professionals can invest in facilities that can provide sustainable services to the population of Uganda.

The council has also urged the government to expeditiously handle the national health insurance scheme bill so that it can be enacted into act so that the funds generated from the scheme will be placed back in the health system so as to reduce repeated borrowing for health projects.

The MPs on the committee however challenged the doctors on the Uganda medical and dental practitioner council to emulate their fellows in Madagascar and also to try their best to innovate and come up with a relief medicine for COVID 19 because the virus might stay around for some time.

Arua porous boarders undermining efforts to fight COVID19

By Alice Lubwama

The Parliamentary Technical Committee on Covid-19 has asked government to handle the issue of porous borders and illegal border entries in Arua district as an emergency because it undermines the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic.

The committee task force is in the West Nile sub region to assess the preparedness of government institutions to handle the Covid-19 pandemic in the region.

While touring the border point of Vurra and Ondromacaku in Arua the vice Chairperson of this committee Spellanza Baguma noted that there was no proper distinction between the Uganda and DR Congo border. “During our tour, we noted that there was no man’s land between the border points between Uganda and DR Congo which put Ugandans in harm’s way to contract corona virus,” she said.

She adds that the people of Arua were not observing the presidential directives of social distancing and wearing masks and thus putting themselves at great risk.

The Acting District Health Officer Arua Dr Paul Drileba, told the committee that the district is facing challenges in the delivering the samples and getting results from the testing centers.

He says it takes the district four days to get results of the drivers due to the lack of transport because they used to transport it to Kampala by buses before the lock down.
, we have found it hard to transport the samples for testing,” Drileba said.
The authorities have now resorted to collecting samples from all the testing centers before taking them to Kampala for testing, which has had its own challenges.

Hon. Fred Baseke, also a member of the committee said that while visiting Arua Hospital, some of the hospital staff like nurses were not wearing protective gears yet the district is already exposed.

Dr Filbert Nyeko, the Director, Arua Hospital, revealed that there are 12 people under quarantine at the hospital, including two children.

Uganda Red Cross collects upto UGX21.9M to help those in need during lock down

By Deo Waswa

Ugandans responding to the call by the Uganda Red Cross society and have contributed shs21.9million towards the society’s efforts in the fight against the COVID 19 pandemic.

The contributions were made through a MoMoPay merchant code that MTN Uganda launched in April as one of the telecom company’s interventions in the fight against the deadly virus.

Through the merchant code *165*3*191919# MTN customers are in position to make donations of any amount toward the efforts to combat covid19.

Speaking after receiving the money from MTN Uganda on behalf of Red Cross, Dr. Josephine Okwera, the Director Health and Social Services at URCS noted that the money will go a long way in making the lives of some people easier during this hard time.

She said after the extension of the lock down for more 14 days, more support is still needed to rescue those that are worst hit due to the lock down.

This comes at time when Uganda is still registering new cases of COVID 19 with more from truck drivers especially From Kenya and Tanzania.

On Wednesday 6th May, 2020, two new COVID-19 case were confirmed from 3,071 samples of truck drivers and this brings a total of confirmed cases to 100 in Uganda.

The two new cases arrived from Kenya via Malaba; and are Eritrean and Kenyan nationalities

All 438 community samples tested negative for COVID-19

Kadaga asks government to review punishments for those moving during curfew time

By Alice Lubwama

The speaker of parliament Rebecca Kadaga has asked government to consider other forms of punishment for the people who do not respect the curfew hours.

This was after some Members of Parliament raised concerns that many people are arrested and packed in cells including the disabled and elderly people.

The legislators are now wondering why the people are being encouraged to keep the social distance yet when arrested they are packed in one place.

Lwemiyaga county MP Theodre sekikubo says he has watched the lame being shipped to kitalya prison for moving past curfew time.

Sekikubo noted that people have been remanded in wheel chairs,which is a shame to the the country.” Yes we are under covid19 quarantine but we should not be seen to be heartless”.He said.

UNBS marks about 70% donated food safe for consumption

By Deo Wasswa

Close to 4000 metric tonnes of beans and 6000 of maize flour have been checked by Uganda National Bureau of Standards to ensure that the food being distributed to communities by the office of prime Minister is safe for consumption.

72% of Maize flour and 73% of beans checked have complied with the standards while 28% of maize flour and 27% of beans have failed to meet the standard.

According to the UNBS executive director, Ben Manyindo while handing over 20 million donations from the staff of Uganda National Bureau of Standards (UNBS) to the COVID19 task force.

Among the other donations the body has made are free face mask standards, free sanitizer, free disinfectant as well as free technical guidance offered to local manufacturers to increase the production of quality and safe face masks and sanitizers in this period as the country fights COVID 19.

Pastor Yiga released on bail, asked to follow guidelines against COVID19

By Sania Babirye

MwangaII magistrate court has finally released on bail Renowned city Pastor of Revival church in Kawaala Pastor Augustine Yiga after spending one month and seven days in Kitalya government prison.

Grade one magistrate Timothy Lumunye ordered Pastor Yiga to deposit two million not cash after ruling that the suspect had presented substantial sureties including a one Richard Kimbowa and Denise Kato. He also presented a medical report to prove that he suffers from diabetes.

His bail hearing was granted via a video visual link.

He however warned Pastor Yiga from commenting or giving his opinion on COVID-19 either to his followers in church or the media saying this will automatically lead to cancellation of his bail and he was also ordered to comply with any security guidelines and laws intended to stop the spread of COVID-19.

He returns to court on the 25th of June for further mention of his case.

Pastor Yiga was remanded on the 30th of March to Kitalya government prison on charges of doing an act likely to cause the spread of COVID19.

Pastor Yiga pleaded not guilty to the said charge but the magistrate referred ruling on his bail application after his supporters refused to respect the social distancing directive to fight spread of corona virus by filling up the entire courtroom.

The magistrate further warned that if his followers do not adhere to the said precaution again, he will not rule on his bail application until they do so .

Prosecution states that on the 27th of April 2020 while at his church in Kawaala and before reporters of several Television stations, Pastor Yiga alias Abizayo uttered words to mean that there is no Corona virus in Uganda and Africa well knowing that such words are likely to spread the infection of Corona virus which is dangerous to life.

Pastor Augustine Yiga is said to have further alleged that the alleged deadly virus was just a common flu that has been existing in African countries for years.

Police says his utterances are undermining the government’s effort to fight the spread of the virus.

Parliament ordered to return COVID money

Source: URN

High court has ordered all Members of Parliament who benefited from the Shillings 10 billion for Covid19 activities to deposit it with the Parliamentary Commission, District or Covid19 National Task Force.

Justice Michael Elubu issued the orders Wednesday afternoon while delivering his ruling on an application filed by the Ntungamo Municipality Member of Parliament, Gerald Karuhanga contesting the manner in which parliament allocated the said money.

It came after the Parliamentary Commission through its lawyers led by Sitinah Cherotich agreed with Karuhanga that the money be returned through the three channels listed as long as it is under public control.

Karuhanga through his lawyer, David Mpanga proposed that legislators who received the money and don’t represent any District, return it to either the Parliamentary Commission or National Task Force, which will then channel it to District Task Forces.

Court also heard that the interim order issued by court on April 21st temporarily blocking the payment of the money to the legislators was overtaken by events since it was deposited on individual accounts of the legislators by April 17th 2020.

Mpanga stated that as long as the money first goes into public control, the merits of the main suit challenging the procedure leading to its allocation can be dealt with at a later stage. Shortly after the court directive Karuhanga told Journalists that he has now got some relief because the money will return in public control.

Background

Karuhanga petitioned court last week accusing Parliament breached its rules of procedure when it included the money in question into the report of the Budget Committee without the Consent of the Committee members. The Shillings 10 billion is part of the Shillings 304 billion Supplementary Budget that was approved by parliament on April 4th, 2020 to facilitate the Covid19 response.

Karuhanga alleged that Parliament deducted the 10 billion Shillings from the Health and Security budgets to distribute it among legislators to purportedly carryout Covid19 sensitisation activities yet the procedure leading to the same was marred with procedural impropriety.

Each MP pocketed Shillings 20 million. However, in his application Karuhanga argued that citizens were most likely to suffer from irreparable damage if Parliamentarians are not directed to return the monies to public accounts for proper usage. Some legislators had already vowed to return the money once it is deposited on their accounts.

On Tuesday, the Speaker of Parliament, Rebecca Kadaga, said they would forward the returned money to districts where the affected legislators hail from. Last night, President, Yoweri Museveni also described the actions of the MPs who received the money as morally reprehensible; adding that they had entered a trap and the only way to get out of it was not to spend it.

UPDF medical services commended for preparedness to fight COVID19

By Sania Babirye

The UPDF Chief of Defence Forces Gen David Muhoozi has commended the Chieftaincy of Medical Services for their preparedness to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic.

General Muhoozi made the remarks today as he inspected the Field Hospital set up to support national health services at the General Military Hospital Bombo.

Gen Muhoozi noted that Ugandans are extremely happy with the medical team’s professionalism exhibited in dealing with the Covid-19 crisis.

“Our medical teams have played a critical role as part of the various response teams set up by the Ministry of Health,” Gen Muhoozi said.

He expressed gratitude to the U.S. government for its partnership with Uganda in professionalizing the forces.

The U.S. supported UPDF in building capabilities to rapidly respond to crises including pandemics.

The field hospital was donated to the government of Uganda under Africa Peace Keeping Rapid Response Program (APRRP) which started in 2015.

Uganda, Ethiopia, Senegal, Tanzania, Ghana and Rwanda are countries that have so far benefited from the program.

The Chief of Medical Services, Maj Gen Dr Ambrose Musinguzi thanked the UPDF leadership for continued support to the established medical centers whose services are also extended to the community.

Col Edward Dupont, the USA Defense Attaché in Kampala commended UPDF’s contribution to Uganda’s efforts against Covid-19 and noted that positive results are visible. He thanked the UPDF for putting to good use, the skills and equipment donated by the U.S. and pledged continued support.

The Chief of Defence Forces and the Defence Attaché thereafter visited Alex Niwanyine, the soldier who lost his eye during a curfew enforcement mission in Bibia. Niwanyine is recuperating well.

Others who accompanied the CDF to inspect the Field Hospital include; the Joint Chief of Staff Lt Gen Joseph Musanyufu, the General Headquarters Camp Commandant Maj Gen Jerome Kakari, and Brig Gen Richard Karemire the Defence Spokesperson among others.