Let us balance the fight against COVID-19

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Haji Nsereko Mutumba.File/Photo

By Haji Nsereko Mutumba

I would like to thank the government of Uganda for successfully putting in place measures that have significantly minimized the infection rate of Coronavirus in the country.

Thumbs up to President Museveni for spearheading the response efforts, and the national task force, for the wonderful coordination role

I am however, concerned about the hype around COVID-19, as if it is the only or the biggest threat to our livelihoods.

Poverty, HIV/AIDS, malaria and maternal mortality among others, are equally serious threats to the livelihoods of Ugandans.

I am therefore calling upon the Ministry of Health and other concerned government ministries, not to over concentrate of the COVID-19 response, at the expense of other health emergencies.

At the moment, our young ones, especially those in secondary and tertiary education institutions are at home, and uncertain about the next academic step.

Their continued stay at home has made some of them vulnerable to risky behaviors that expose them to HIV infection. 

According to a recent media report, about 60 young girls in Luuka and Kaliro district might miss school after getting pregnant during the current lockdown.

Therefore, government should equally invest in the prevention and treatment of other diseases besides COVID-19.

I am also concerned about the rural farmers who are not being supported in any way.

If the lockdown continues, they will run out of the little food that they have and start demanding for food donations.

There must be a special arrangement under which small scale farmers are given hoes, seeds, fertilizers, weed sprays and pesticides, so that they keep their farms productive. 

The other issue that needs urgent attention from the government is the growing tendency by employers to refuse to pay employees or lay them off without compensation under the guise of COVID-19.

Some of these dismissals are driven by the vendetta of the employers against their employees.

Such dismissals are increasing the dependency burden and increasing pressure on the meager government resources. Just as it did on the issues of bank loans and house rent, the government should come out strongly in defense of Ugandans who are being cheated by their employers.

The author is a former UMSC spokesperson and a farmer

He can be reached on hajimutumba@gmail.com

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