Op-ed: US humanitarian programs fermenting only chaos in Uganda

A US army officer and some Ugandan officials. Courtesy photo.

By James Mugeni William

United States of America—18 October 2020: Editor, the USA literally runs Uganda. You can hardly mention anything in Uganda that the US government is not funding. When I read the donations that the West gives our country, I do not think it would be hard to stop the chaos if USA just told leadership in Uganda to behave. He who pays the piper determines the tune.

Even simple things like hand washing, the US is funding us. This appears to leave us with nothing to fund but to fight for free money from taxpayer’s money from USA. It is increasingly clear that we do not need to work but only wait for relief money from USA. This has left us with a country of handicapped people, a country of destitution. Below are some programs that the US government supports, and I cannot tell exactly what our input is apart from reception and squander!

The U.S. Embassy Kampala Office of Security Cooperation, on behalf of U.S. Walter Reed Army Institute of Research (WRAIR) donated personal protective equipment (PPE) worth $126,940 to support Mulago National Referral Hospital; Gulu, Jinja, and Kiruddu Regional Referral Hospitals; the Uganda Virus Research Institute (UVRI) and Makerere College of Veterinary Medicine, Animal Resources and Biosecurity (COVAB) to support surveillance for Influenza, Influenza like Illness (ILI), and Severe Acute Respiratory Illness (SARI).

This surveillance programs help identify patients who might have SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19 and supplements the government of the Republic of Uganda’s Ministry of Health efforts toward curbing the COVID-19 pandemic. The U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) approved and facilitated the procurement of these PPE supplies for the use of the health care personnel involved in these surveillance activities, through U.S. Embassy Kampala.

Today’s contribution from U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) through WRAIR and our local partner, the Makerere University Walter Reed Project (MUWRP) is a perfect example of the successful long-term research and health services collaboration between Uganda and the American people.

The U.S. government will support 10 Regional Referral Hospitals (RRHs) in Uganda in 2020-2021 to strengthen their capacity for an added role of providing leadership and oversight to public health programs in districts and regions within their catchment. These include Arua, Fort Portal, Masaka, Soroti, Jinja, Mbarara, Lira, Moroto, Bombo Military Hospital, and Kayunga General Hospital.

Regional Referral Hospitals play a major role as hubs for specialized services and care. Under the new mandate, the hospitals will be able to benefit from U.S. government investments in laboratory strengthening, information systems and data management, workforce development, supply chain systems, and other areas.

Uganda’s Ministry of Health retreat to build consensus for strengthening this RRH oversight approach, Country Director, Dr. Lisa Nelson contributed in discussions with the MOH regarding operational collaboration for the upcoming U.S. government support to RRHs around Uganda.

The U.S. government supports the Ugandan people by funding programs on HIV through

The U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR); on maternal and child health; family planning; neglected tropical diseases; malnutrition; malaria prevention and treatment; and emergency and outbreak response—all of which are core to the work of Regional Referral Hospitals.

The U.S. government has participated in a dialogue organized by the Alliance of Women Advocating for Change (Awacuganda) under the theme: “Mental health effects of violence against female sex workers and other marginalized women and girls.” The U.S. government, with funding from The U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) supports AWAC through CDC’s Key Populations Investment Fund.

Under the partnership, AWAC supports friendly services through Key Populations Drop-in Centers, a toll-free line to provide psychosocial support in cases of emergencies such as violence, stress and trauma among Female Sex Workers, as well as online therapy counseling, referrals, linkages to basic services such as post exposure prophylaxis or PEP—a short-term antiretroviral treatment recommended for individuals that have had potential exposure to HIV to reduce the likelihood of infection.

Because sex work is illegal and often hidden, identifying children of sex workers, and their health and social needs can be difficult increasing their vulnerability and marginalization. CDC Global Uganda Country Director Lisa Nelson noted while speaking during the fourth Annual National Sex Worker’s Dialogue at Africana Hotel.

“Therefore, family-centered approaches to care for them such as home visits and peer networking need to be scaled up to reach these children,” she said.

CDC Global Uganda Country Director Mrs Lisa Nelson speaking recently at Hotel Africana, Kampala. Courtesy photo.

We now have a situation where leadership in Uganda that benefits in the US/Uganda bilateral relationship blame us for questioning this very relationship being funded by the very Western world for causing chaos in Uganda.

The US needs to stand clear out of the chaos in Uganda besides, weigh in heavily since they fund and give technical support to the marauding military forces. I am making these strong statements as someone who has once served in the US and helped them in implementing their foreign policy in Uganda.

Democracy as being one of the areas in the foreign policy has produced for us a dictatorship of almost 40 years, a “one-man rule”.

The author is a Medical Clinical Officer/Certified public Manager

Email: wmungadi@gmail.com Phone: 515 346 5317.

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