Uganda: Covid-19 – Laxity At Mutukula Border As Covid-19 Infections Soar – AllAfrica.com

By Paul Ssekandi
A number of businesses between Ugandan and Tanzanian residents at the Mutukula border point have since resumed and are operating normally between Ugandan and Tanzanian residents, despite the ongoing lockdown to stem the spread of Covid-19, Daily Monitor has learnt.
The businesses operating at the porous borders include food trade and the bars where the residents converge for their leisure time.
Over the weekend, the Parliamentary task force on Covid-19 inspected the border and health facilities in the area, and raised several concerns about the crisscrossing between Ugandans and Tanzanians yet the latter are hardly observing the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) as is the case with Uganda.
Dr Emmanuel Ssekyeru, the Kalisizo Hospital Medical Superintendent, explained to the legislators that the rate of community infections in Kyotera District is so alarming whereas no clear follow up is made on the positive cases.
He noted that at least 1,526 people had tested positive out of 7606 tests that have been carried out in the past two months. 25 health workers have tested positive whereas 18 of the positive cases have died in the whole district.
Mr Brian Musa, a Tanzanian who operates his business at the border, said they have not experienced any severe illnesses or deaths related to the pandemic.
"In Tanzania, we are not scared of anything. As you see I’m not putting on a mask and ever since covid-19 rumours started in Uganda, we have not had any related illnesses in our area", he said.
He added that the deaths and severe cases are only heard of through media.
While addressing the Mutukula border administration and a few health workers at the border, the Kimanya-Kabonera County MP in Masaka City, Dr Abed Bwanika, said that their the Parliamentary task force is to oversee what the Central government is doing, advise it on what to do as they examine the impact of the covid-19 pandemic on the citizens.
"We have therefore noticed a gap in treating our people which calls for putting up a covid-19 treatment center at this border district because it attracts quite a big number of people including foreigners who access the country through the porous borders of Mutukula," he explained.
Dr Ssekyeru said various challenges have hindered the work of the health workers in handling covid-19 cases, which may even end up giving room to other diseases hence unnecessary deaths among the community.
"We currently have challenges of inadequate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and complaints of no risk allowances for the health workers. Once our health team is motivated, we expect a change in treatment of covid-19 cases," he said.
Dr Edward Muwanga, the Kyotera District Health Officer, appealed to the legislators to lobby for an upgrade of Kalisizo Hospital to a referral hospital because patients have oftentimes rejected the referrals made by health workers to Masaka Regional Referral Hospital due to the charges of fuel for the ambulance.
A minimum amount of Shs 100,000 is required to fuel an ambulance from any part of Kyotera District to Masaka referral hospital according to Dr Muwanga.
At Masaka referral hospital, the legislators tasked the hospital administration to monitor district hospitals and Health Centre IVs to ensure that the best service is offered to Ugandans.
Mr Charles Tebandeke, the Bbaale county MP, tasked the Ministry of Health to put to order private companies carrying out tests at the Mutukula border point, saying that this is a risky venture as companies would aim at making profits and mind less about the lives of Ugandans.
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The case was not any different from other districts of Kalungu and Lyantonde which another section of Parliamentarians toured.
In Lyantonde District, Ms Pauline Kemirembe, the District Woman MP who is also a member of the the task force, called on the government to equip Lyantonde Hospital with enough PPE and also avail risk allowances to the health workers so that the health standards of the citizens are uplifted.
Dr Bwanika said that they are going to task the two ministries of Health and that of Finance to make sure they prioritize border districts as they send more funds to them due to their poor conditions.
"What we have seen in Kyotera needs an urgent reaction. Kakuuto and Kalisizo health facilities are so dilapidated yet they are in a border district. It’s not that we don’t have money, it is just about the poor allocation of resources," he said.
Read the original article on Monitor.
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