Covid-19 is not a military war, change strategy – President Museveni told

President Museveni has been advised to change tactics of fighting Covid-19 in Uganda. File photo.

By Justin Omara

Kampala—12, June 2020: A health expert has warned President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni to change his strategy of fighting Covid-19 or risk total failure and loss of lives.

In his letter [plea] to the President, Mr James William Mugeni, a Medical Clinical Officer [MCO] as well as Certified Public Manager, unleashed sets of carefully knitted ideas, alerting the President of the looming danger of losing the fight against the deadly global pandemic Coronavirus (Covid-19) by using the military instead of the experienced health workers.

“You literally went into Covid-19 with a military approach and abandoned healthcare systems. Now you are saying it is not the work of the police to save us and this is true. It is the work of health workers to save everyone,” the letter, copy of which TND News has, partly reads.

Referring to the President’s recent statement that he should not be blamed for anyone’s death, Mr Mugeni makes it clear that it is time to change strategy because government still has a lot in its arsenal not put to use; it is just because President Museveni went on a trial and error scheme.

“Demilitarization of Covid-19 fight is not optional but must begin and we have medical staff credentialing and privileging that follows the experience of care for individuals through the health care process including safety culture assessments. Best practices for case management should be spreading across hospitals and districts. Best practices should be spreading through health teams as custodians of health not you the President. The directives should not be yours but health principles that inform medical practice and communities in the management of Covid-19,” he adds.

Speaking after the budget speech on Thursday 11, June, 2020, a seemingly sad President Museveni told the nation that government will not continue begging Ugandans to live because he and his health experts have done enough to sensitize the public about the preventive measures against the spread of the virus that has so far infected 679 Ugandans.

“We cannot go on begging people to live. That we call police to enforce (Covid-19 preventive measures)! Call police for what! All of us should enforce this on ourselves without having to bother the police,” he said.

As a swift counter argument, the MCO pounces in on the President, presenting his reasons why the president cannot be held accountable for all the good moves turned sour.

“President there are television skits that the Covid-19 task teams are defrauding the country; we have extraordinarily strong allegations from your media consultant that the doctors heading the Covid-19 taskforce are simply making a killing out of this period. How then can you even be an authority in Uganda where corruption is taking centre stage? How do you even say we should not blame you when we start dying after your system have set death traps? How do you expect us to escape death with all the vulnerabilities so created?” he asks.

Mr Mugeni further reminds the President that there are two sides of the coin to the Covid-19 fight that awaits Uganda and hence he must be prepared for both.

The Certified Public Manager also adds that the President might not only rejoice in the success story but also the failure in the fight.

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Before Covid-19 hit Uganda, Mr Mugeni first wrote to the President saying that Covid-19 is manageable, and he was writing, as he says, “with the confidence of a health worker who has been tested in managing infectious diseases in Uganda.” The confidence with which he wrote is based on documented evidence. Accordingly, he has now taken a swift criticism of the President’s approach, which he says, left many people confused by hitting the panic button, something that healthcare professionals do not do.

“Your statement above can only be of a nation that is giving up. We just passed the excitatory stage of Covid-19 that we expect to settle for lessons. By now we should be able to provide the safest and highest quality care possible. All systems reviewed and committed to creating a safety culture not by just talking about best practices, but by delivering them every day and at every opportunity. Doing what is right and doing it well should not be lip service in Uganda,” adds Mugeni.

On the deployment of LDUs

Mr Mugeni says Uganda has underplayed/unemployed health workers who can still do a better job than the Police, the LDUs and the many corrupt people whom the President was seen wanting to send to hell. He blamed President Museveni for wrongly using the armed forces to force Ugandans to succumb to the lockdown’s harsh directives.

“A severely hungry population required behaviour scientists but instead got armed thugs who took away lives of Ugandans. Behaviour change communication is based on giving life changing messages….” “You would have had an easy job, unfortunately you created punitive approach that did not allow learning from the experience. As government, you needed to proactively assess your systems strength and vulnerabilities and prioritize them for enhancement or improvement of covid-19,” he explained.

He suggests that if young people get excited putting on yellow masks or red masks that is a strength, calling on all actors in the political arena to save voters. This, he says, should have been strengthened. There is nothing wrong with People Power reaching out. What motivates behaviour is a belief in something. Individual and group beliefs, values, attitudes, perceptions, competencies, and patterns of behaviour determine the individual or organizational commitment to quality of life, he argues.

On Covid-19 supplementary budget

Mr Mugeni also questions the President over Speaker of Parliament, Rt. Hon. Rebecca Alitwala Kadaga over money which she said was passed for the supplementary budget aimed at managing Covid-19.

“Every district of Uganda got shs165m, your office as the Office of the President got shs15bn, the Office of the Prime Minister was given shs59bn to buy food; that the money was used to buy rotten food – why are you not concerned about that? They serve expired milk to our children, but you don’t talk about it, why? He further said that Ministry of Defence was given shs29bn and the Health Ministry had requested for shs62 billion but was given shs94 billion in support of their huge task they have. This is uncoordinated movement of troops in the Covid-19 fight…” he said.

On US Embassy running the economy

The MCO and CPM further takes a swipe at the President for allowing the US Embassy run Uganda’s economy since the pandemic forced the country into lockdown. He laments that as the President keeps sinking in scandal after scandal, the US Embassy has stood up for leadership in the Covid-19, accounting for every dollar they are spending on Uganda.

“The US Embassy contributed more than $15 million, or UGX 56 billion to the Covid-19” For more details about U.S. assistance to the Covid-19 response in Uganda, the information provided is public at the Embassy Facebook page. There is no sector of Uganda that the US Embassy is not funding during this period how come this is happening,” writes the CPM.

Seven new cases of Covid-19 for Thursday were on Friday announced by the Ministry of Health pushing Uganda’s tally to 686. The Ministry of Health has warned of tighter lockdown measures if the public continues to defy guidelines on social distancing and wearing of masks.

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