Uganda: The Harsh Lockdown We Should Never Have Again

(file photo).

President Yoweri Museveni could have eased the restrictions on schools and public movements in the country; come January 10, schools will be open once again.

But there are now more massive aftershocks of the Covid-19 in every aspect of the economic system. Uganda, like the rest of the world, is experiencing risks and uncertainties due to the significant effects of the Covid-19.

When the pandemic broke out in 2020, the most immediate concern for the government was to protect the health of her citizens against Covid-19. Unfortunately but not surprising, Uganda rapidly adopted not always well-thought-through measures to contain the spread of the virus.

These included a two-year lockdown, closure of schools, nightclubs, and curfew, among others. Little was done to ensure the resilience of national care services (Uganda's medical service became the most exorbitant ever in the region).

Uganda's initial responses were mere protectionist reflexes not guided by science and unfortunately, they stayed for as long as the head of state and his close advisors wanted.

They were never reviewed for the better. As East Africans, there was a clear lack of solidarity within the community, and that tested its relevance. Every member state took a different approach to this pandemic.

Along the way, the preoccupation of the health authorities in Uganda turned into an obsession with releasing alarmist figures of the dead and those affected.

The emphasis was not placed on finding homegrown remedies. We held out our begging bowls to the world for vaccines, expertise, and personal protection equipment ( PPEs). The private school ecosystem is in shambles: parents feel short-changed by the schools' administration's insistence on paying school fees.

The schools too are in a dilemma, they need money to operate. Some schools will never open again. Other businesses which used to employ many Ugandans too collapsed.

The government does not have a clear plan of rescue or resuscitation of the economy. Ugandans are left to their own devices. The Observer's humble appeal to school owners is; be lenient on parents as they struggle to pay fees.

Despite all the identified challenges, Covid-19 offers opportunities to rethink certain crisis approaches, but above all, to better protect the health and lives of Ugandans.

The national health insurance scheme bill was passed but not yet assented to by the president. Perhaps if the law was in place, the opportunists in the health sector who took advantage of the desperation of Ugandans would not have had their day.

The country needs a leadership that does not commoditize fear. We need to wean ourselves off the cut-and-paste approaches to crises.

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