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Gov't urged to redesign COVID-19 messaging to battle complacency

By Davis Buyondo

Added 1st August 2020 05:20 PM

There is concern over the increasing cases in Mutukula, Kasensero, Nangoma and Sange communities due to people’s failure to adhere to the safety guidelines

Gov't urged to redesign COVID-19 messaging to battle complacency

URCS secretary general Robert Kwesiga addressing the media reporters about different interventions the organisation has put in place. Photo by Davis Buyondo

There is concern over the increasing cases in Mutukula, Kasensero, Nangoma and Sange communities due to people’s failure to adhere to the safety guidelines

The Uganda Red Cross Society (URCS) has advised the government and the ministries of health to repackage the messages and interventions about the Coronavirus (COVID19) pandemic since people are more complacent. 

The ministry has sent the same messages for over four months since the pandemic was announced in Uganda yet people's behaviour has kept changing.

According to Robert Kwesiga, the URCS secretary general, Ugandans are still hesitant to follow the safety guidelines issued by the ministry of health including wearing face masks, maintaining social distance and regular washing of hands with soap or sanitising them.

He explained that being complacent about the disease may lead to numerous deaths in Uganda if people get used to the clichéd messages and yet there is a lot of misleading information from different sources which is keeping them off track.

He further added that COVID-19 has shifted from the border entry points into the communities yet there is increased complacency by people across the board. 

"You can manage that by repackaging the COVID19 interventions such that people can know that the disease is still with us and that it can kill us if we are not careful," he said. 

Kwesiga made the remarks at Mutukula, a Uganda-Tanzania border post, on Wednesday. He had led a delegation of Red Cross officials in a bid to evaluate the impact of their services in the ongoing campaign against the pandemic in Kyotera district. 

Earlier, the organisation donated an ambulance to the District COVID Task Force in addition to paying a doctor and the driver to operate it. Still, several of the organisation's staff and volunteers are aiding the screening of truck drivers. 

Maj. David Matovu, the Kyotera Resident District Commissioner, said that it is the Red Cross Ambulance that has transported the suspected COVID-19 patients from different communities to the isolation and treatment centres in Masaka, Mbarara, Entebbe and other centres. 

He further added that they are facing several challenges including lack of institutional quarantine centres, enough health workers, and lack of fuel to aid their surveillance and coordination of COVID activities and other relevant logistics for the campaign to run smoothly.   

He expressed concern over the increasing cases in Mutukula, Kasensero, Nangoma and Sange communities due to people's failure to adhere to the safety guidelines. 

He further thanked the organisation for sending establishing a team that is fumigating cargo trucks from Tanzania before they cross to Uganda. 

According to Dr Edward Muwanga, the District Health Officer, the taskforce received sh165m in the last quarter to cater for different operations.

"We area border district which has so far registered 474 cases but we were given the same amount of money the districts with no confirmed case got," he said, adding that they ran out of funds and can hardly carry out regular COVID-19 operations.    

He further added that the district institutional quarantine centre at Nabigasa was closed due to lack of resources to run it and to train health workers to manage the isolation and treatment centres. 

Kwesiga later held a meeting with the task force officials and identified several gaps which he said need to be addressed. 

He added that they are to consult the ministry of health and relevant government departments to know where the Red Cross can intervene to address the gaps.

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