The Dean, MakSPH -Prof,Rhoda Wanyenze , The Director, AFENET-Mr.Simon Antara, Dr.Lisa Nelson, the US Centres For Disease Control(CDC) Country Director and Dr. Yonas Tegegn Woldemariam, the World Health Organization-WHO country representative at the Public Dialogue on Friday 13th March, 2020 at the Imperial Royale Hotel
Written by Joseph Odoi
THE CORONAVIRUS (COVID-19) has spread rapidly across the world, reaching more than 150 countries in just over two months, infecting more than 100,000. From national lockdowns in Italy and China to disruptions in international travel , and closure of schools due to fears of contracting the infection . What should be done to address this crisis? What can government and the citizens do to contain this pandemic and manage the severe disruption it is causing?
To address these questions, The Makerere University School of Public Health (MakSPH) in collaboration with the Ministry of Health (MoH)-Uganda, World Health Organization (WHO)-Uganda, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)-Uganda and the African Field Epidemiology Network (AFENET) organized a Public Dialogue on the Coronavirus Disease on Friday 13th March, 2020 at the Imperial Royale
Speaking at the dialogue aimed at checking Uganda’s preparedness to prevent, detect and respond to Coronavirus (COVID-19), Dr. Henry Mwebesa - the Director-General of Health Services at the Ministry of Health , called upon every Ugandan to play a role if corona virus is to be prevented
Mwebesa further revealed that whereas the ministry is struggling to keep Corona virus at bay, they are also battling misinformation spreading on social media and other platforms yet the issue is a national public health concern
“As the ministry, we ask all stakeholders , institutions and politicians to join us in this fight against corona virus, let everyone volunteer and work with us in any way they can‘’ he said.
As part of the fight, Mwebesa further revealed that the government through President Museveni is already championing prevention against corona virus.
On mass gatherings, he advised the public about the need to follow guidelines put in place like hand washing and sanitizing adding that the ministry of Health is working on a law to foster the fight against corona virus.
While chairing the public dialogue, the Dean, Makerere University School of Public Health -Prof,Rhoda Wanyenze stressed the importance of getting information from right sources citing some of the rumors doing rounds on social media that blacks don’t get corona virus disease.
‘’I hope you’ve been following messages online saying black people don’t get corona virus, please get information from official sources’’ she urged the participants
Besides, she noted that there is need to sensitize people in rural areas and Kampala surroundings about corona virus and prevention mechanisms.
Dr. Yonas Tegegn Woldemariam, the World Health Organization-WHO country representative, said there was no confirmed corona case in Uganda.
“We urge the public to continuously get updates from the Health ministry and endeavor to prevent the disease by washing hands or use sanitizers every they touch any material,” said Dr. Tegegn
Dr.Yonas further cautioned the public against discrimination of foreigners
Dr.Lisa Nelson, the US Centres For Disease Control(CDC) Country Director at the event reaffirmed her country’s commitment towards public health citing Public Health Surveillance, real time evaluation and equipped laboratories to detect diseases like Corona Virus.
In his remarks, Simon Antara, noted that his organization AFENET in partnership with School of Public Health and CDC have been working towards infection prevention control and through training public health workers to do screening on infectious diseases including COVID19
In her remarks, Dr.Elizabeth Ekirapa-Kiracho the Head Policy Planning and Management at MaKSPH stressed the importance of contextualizing evidence in the fight against corona virus meaning every area should have unique ways of addressing corona as approaches defer depending on the place..
In his presentation, The Director Airport and Aviation Security -Mr .Ayub Sooma affirmed that airport officials are doing their best to protect Ugandan citizens from corona virus infection following guidelines by the Ministry of Health and WHO
Also at the conference, the Incident manager COVID19 , Mr.Atek Kagirita advised travelers to exercise self-quarantine and the general public to wash their hands with soap or alcohol based sanitizers.
Among issues raised by participants were ;- man power to check self-quarantine, access to corona testing kits ,role of borders in spreading corona virus, corona and the role of communication in fighting corona virus.
A Participant makes contribution at the public dialogue
Measures for everyone against Corona Virus
- Regularly and thoroughly clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand rub or wash them with soap and water.
- Maintain at least 1 metre (3 feet) distance between yourself and anyone who is coughing or sneezing.
- Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth.
- Make sure you, and the people around you, follow good respiratory hygiene. This means covering your mouth and nose with your bent elbow or tissue when you cough or sneeze. Then dispose of the used tissue immediately.
- Stay home if you feel unwell. If you have a fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical attention and call in advance. Follow the directions of your local health authority
- Follow advice given by your healthcare provider, your national and local public health authority or your employer on how to protect yourself and others from COVID-19.
- If possible, avoid traveling to places especially if you are an older person or have diabetes, heart or lung disease.
- Protection measures for persons who are in or have recently visited (past 14 days) areas where COVID-19 is spreading
Follow all the advice above
Self-isolate by staying at home if you begin to feel unwell, even with mild symptoms such as headache, low grade fever (37.3 C or above) and slight runny nose, until you recover. If it is essential for you to have someone bring you supplies or to go out, e.g. to buy food, then wear a mask to avoid infecting other people.
If you develop fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical advice promptly as this may be due to a respiratory infection or other serious condition. Call in advance and tell your provider of any recent travel or contact with travellers.