When we attempt to get it right with social distancing and the lockdown rules, we get completely off the rails when it comes to purchasing vaccines.
When local practitioners invent local remedies, they are fought, until the president intervenes and asks the National Drug Authority (NDA) to give the much needed nod of approval. Where are Uganda’s priorities in the fight against Covid-19!
Uganda recently splurged Shs 23 billion on a fleet of pick-up trucks, which ostensibly would be used in the fight against Covid-19. The ministry of Health is very proud of its purchase!
As soon as news broke, we learnt that the Norwegian government had given Uganda Shs 8 billion to purchase vaccines. This is a mere drop in the ocean given that many people who got the first jab have gone past the deadline for the second dose.
That means should Uganda get a new set of doses, priority has to be given to those who got the first jab. So what will happen
to those who have not been inoculated yet?
Vaccination right now is the surest way of controlling the viral infection. A lack of vaccines in Uganda is holding back the once warmed up to vaccination programme. It is worse here because the percentage of those who have gotten the first jab and are yet to complete their vaccination is abysmally below 1 per cent. There were only 890,000 doses that were delivered in the country.
Uganda has not officially bought any vaccines. What Uganda has used, principally, AstraZeneca, was a donation from the World Health Organization (WHO) through the global vaccine sharing scheme, Covax.
With all the funding from World Bank, WHO, Global Fund, European Union, Uganda still looks like a pity object that cannot purchase her own vaccines. She’s simply carrying a begging bowl for donations.
Not that those vaccines worth Shs 23 billion would have covered the entire country, but it would have made a huge difference.
How can pick-up trucks and not ambulances, vaccines or ICU facilities be a top priority in fighting Covid-19?
Doctors and other medical workers are catching infections and dying because they don’t have personal protection equipment.
Uganda needs to get its priorities right.
We should also encourage other local remedies if they have proven helpful. There is no justification to have a huge classified budget for the ministry of defence when people who could have been saved by vaccines are dropping dead. For whom will those guns protect if citizens are dead.