Fun Factory in new COVID-19 awareness hit

By Daudi Zirimala
Twaweza Uganda has teamed up with popular comedy outfit, Fun Factory to release a song Titled Yambala Mask which loosely translates to wear your mask, the song promotes messages about protecting yourself and your loved ones against the Corona virus.

According to Twaweza communications manager Martha Chemutai the song’s lyrics are in six languages – Luganda, Runyakitara, Kiswahili, Lusoga, Lingala and Luo – and encourage everyone to wear a mask so as to prevent the spread of the virus and protect their loved ones while drawing attention to the seriousness of the virus and highlighting its symptoms.

She noted that in a campaign dubbed Together against COVID-19, they are supporting government efforts by translating critical public health messages from the Ministry of Health into music and comedy so the messages reach the general public and stick.

Click Link to find song:

Fitness practitioners ask Government to open their facilities

By Deo Wasswa

The Association of wellness health and fitness practitioners in Uganda has called upon the government to consider re-opening of fitness facilities. They claim that they have put in place measures to comply with COVID-19 guidelines

According to the association, since inception of the lock down, the facilities are not earning yet they are spending on rent and some bills.

They say the facilities are now constraining them financially . They fear that many of the facilities will close if government continues the shut down.

Dr. Christopher Mbowa, head of UPDF fitness department who is also the president of the association says things like keeping records, sanitizers, Gun Temperature among others have been put in place by members to comply with COVID-19 guidelines.

The association comprises of 110 fitness facilities only in Kampala and has embarked on the journey to register more facilities across the country in an effort of marking the industry more professional and sound.

Lack of soap in rural areas hindering COVID-19 fight

By Edwin Muhumuza

A recent survey has revealed that poorest household’s lack of soap has been a major challenge in fighting COVID-19.

This is according to the Uganda Bureau of Statistics (UBOS) High-Frequency Phone Survey on COVID-19 in tracking the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on households.

Among other issues was that 33% of households could no longer buy medicine while 19% could not access medical treatment when needed.

69.4% were working by the survey time while 17% who were working are no longer working according to Steven Baryahirwa, the Director Economic surveys at UBOS.

The overall estimated economic Gross output went down by 21% in the month of April 2020 as business closed operations within the same period.

The survey with support from the World Bank on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on businesses has revealed that the formal economy excluding finance and insurance services decreased from 7.3 trillion in March to 5.8 trillion in April.

At sector level, the worst hit are creative, arts & entertainment activities at 93% followed by construction at 77%, accommodation and food services at 70% and Mining at 69.7%

Since the COVID-19 outbreak, 87% of households have reported reduced income (or no earnings) from at least one of their sources of livelihood.

Dr.Chris Mukiza, the executive Director ,UBOS said that on a monthly basis for a period of 12 months the survey aimed to recontact the entire sample of households that had been interviewed during the Uganda National Panel Survey (UNPS) 2019/20 round and that had phone numbers for at least one household member or a reference individual.

Of 2,421 households that were attempted to be interviewed, 2,259 were successfully interviewed, representing 93 percent of the initial target sample. Gender distribution of the respondents was close to parity.

In regard to knowledge of COVID-19 symptoms, the study showed that it is still far from universal. The most frequent COVID-19 symptoms such as dry cough, fever and shortness of breath were in fact not mentioned by all respondents.

Eighty three percent of respondents reported dry cough to be a COVID-19 symptom, and there were no significant differences in reporting by the level of respondent’s education. On the other hand, while fever was mentioned by 67% of respondents, the awareness of this symptom was significantly lower among those that never attended school (48%).

Only 36% of respondents named shortness of breath as a COVID-19 symptom and almost nobody mentioned loss of smell or taste (4%).

Relatedly, awareness of preventive measures is quite high, but with some variation across rural/urban areas and pre-COVID-19 consumption quintiles based on UNPS 2019/20.

The respondents were well-informed about the important preventive measures such as hand washing (100%), avoiding gatherings (98%), wearing a mask (95%), social distancing (91%) and avoiding touching the face (87%). Key preventive measures such as handwashing and social distancing were universally known.

Police registers an increase in suicide cases

By Robert Segawa

Police has registered 275 cases of suicide have been registered country wide due to Covid-19 lock-down.

According to Uganda police statistics,there has been a registered increase of 20% compared to last year.

While addressing the journalist, at media center today the deputy police spokesman Polly Namaye said that the increased number of suicide in a country is fueled by depression due to the impact of Covid 19 and other challenges.

She mentioned that Lwengo district has the most number of reported suicide cases, followed by Rukungiri, Tororo, Nakaseke, Gulu, Mbale, Mpigi, Kakumiro, Adjuman, Koboko, Kumi among others.

She further urged Ugandan’s to seek help from expert’s instead of killing themselves.

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.