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Terego residents 'advised' to wear masks in turns

By Robert Adiga

Added 21st July 2020 11:51 AM

Some of the residents who missed out during the distribution exercise said the masks were irregularly distributed by the Village Health team (VHTs) members and the local council leaders.

Terego residents 'advised' to wear masks in turns

Moriku displaying the government masks to be distributed. Left is Awua. (Photo by Robert Adiga)

Some of the residents who missed out during the distribution exercise said the masks were irregularly distributed by the Village Health team (VHTs) members and the local council leaders.

HEALTH   VIRUS

Residents of Alianda village in the newly created Terego district have decried the practice of sharing masks among family members.

The Government recently distributed masks in border districts, including Terego, but many families said they got few masks.

Family members said they have been advised to share the few masks and move to public places in shifts.

Some of the residents who missed out during the distribution exercise said the masks were irregularly distributed by the Village Health team (VHTs) members and the local council leaders.

According to residents, the distribution only targeted family heads, leaving out other family members, causing an uproar from the elderly, women, youth and children who cannot afford to buy masks at sh1,000.

Residents lament

Denis Ecoku, 20, said out of the 14 members in his family, only six got masks. He said they were advised to use the masks in turns.

"I don't know whether the masks were not enough or it was done on purpose. This will not help us much in preventing the coronavirus," Ecoku said.

Minister Moriku addressing leaders in Arua before dispatching the masks in June. (Photo by Robert Adiga)


Jesca Ayikoru, whose family consists of 22 members, said they were given only five masks and were told to move to public places in turns.

"We were told that the masks were only for family heads since they were not enough. However, the VHTs advised us to move to public places in turns so that the masks can serve everyone," Ayikoru said.

She said sharing masks undermines the fight against COVID-19. 

Joice Obizo, a 52-year-old widow who is struggling with four children

above the age of six, only received one mask. She said it was unfair since community leaders, before the distribution exercise, went around

homes registering people who qualified for the masks.

"When I asked how was I going to use the mask, I was told to share with my children or take my complaint to the sub-county headquarters," Obizo said.

What local leaders say

Geoffrey Olema, the Bileafe sub-county chairperson, acknowledged the shortage of masks but said only Alianda village was affected.

Olema said the sub-county has 32 villages and each was given a box containing 500 pieces, which is way below the actual number of intended beneficiaries.

"We have been advising local leaders and the community members that priority should be given to the family heads since they move a lot," Olema said.

He noted that the masks being distributed in Terego district were procured under greater Arua district and that he is not sure if the new district has an additional budget for masks, but promised to raise the issue with the higher authorities for consideration.

He urged residents to desist from sharing masks, saying the practice is dangerous.

Olema also advised those who missed out to buy their own masks from vendors.

Information gap

Paul Bishop Drileba, the acting district health officer, said there is an information gap, given the nature of risks associated with sharing of masks.

"Those who are advising on the sharing of masks should be called for a meeting or be sent for training because the guidelines were very clear," Drileba said.

Nahori Oya Awua, the Arua Resident City Commissioner, who is also in charge of the district COVID-19 task force, including Terego, said the shortage of masks is everywhere. He said they are pushing the Government to produce more masks for those who missed.

Awua advised those without masks to buy as they will be punished for moving in public without them.

"The Government cannot give masks to everybody at ago. We are compiling a list of those who missed, but I implore those who missed to buy some because very soon, we are going to crack a whip on those found in public without masks. Since the ban on public and private transport was lifted, people are moving from one place to another, creating more risks," Awua emphasised.

Distribution Flagged off

On June 29, Dr Joyce Moriku Kaducu, the state minister for health in charge of primary health care, flagged off the distribution of over 590,000 masks for Arua and Terego districts.

However, complaints have in the past few days emerged about the shortage, sizes and design of the masks procured by the Government.


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