Suffice it to mention that if we needed a bigger poster, time is now with the announcement that Ebola is here. As we all know, Ebola kills. It has killed Ugandans before. It has already killed over one thousand in West Africa. And now World Health Organisation (WHO) has warned East Africa, especially our neighbouring Kenya, to be very afraid.
We have learnt that Ebola has no cure and that ninety percent of the people who contract the deadly disease do actually die. We are being told that people who die from Ebola should not be touched except by those who are wearing protective gear, and that the bodies of the dead should be buried immediately. That’s how serious this disease is.
Unfortunately, this life-saving information is only known to very, very few people. The most vulnerable have never heard of Ebola and they have no idea what symptoms to look out for just in case it strikes.
As if this is not bad enough, the few that have now heard or read about the killer disease, have just learnt that the health workers lack basic protectors like gloves. Yet reading about the disease shows that touching an Ebola patient without gloves is a death sentence. That is why the first victims of this disease have been health workers.
The Ministry of Health officials in Kampala have announced that four people have already died from the disease and a number of others have been hospitalized. It must be stated that since the year 2000, cases of Ebola have been reported in Gulu, Bundibugyo, Mbarara, Kibaale, and Kampala. What is scaringly surprising, there is total lack of targeted public awareness aimed at alerting the population about the lurking killer.
While a lot of public awareness about Population Census and Registration of the National IDs has been raised by the relevant bodies, and yet there is no threat of death involved, there is no deliberate effort to sensitize the population on how to avoid dying from killer Ebola. And then you wonder what is going on at the ministry charged with saving life.
It is out of this concern, and the realisation that we are not prepared to handle the killer virus especially when victims are reported to be escaping from hospitals because there is no food to feed them, that we have decided to ask the president to also lead in the sensitization campaign against the fierce and deadly killer disease before it wipes us off the face of the Pearl of Africa.
Who’s to blame?
Last Saturday 16th August, the residents of Nansana, Wakiso district created uproar during the distribution of nets when majority of residents were denied nets because they had not been registered for them.
As a way to vent their anger and dissatisfaction, they decided to forcefully take the available nets which resulted into commotion.
Many residents claimed that the registers did not visit their homes and also the registration period was short which did not provide ample time for registration.
However, towards the close of registration, the state minister of health, Sarah Opendi disclosed that while they had put in a lot of effort to register residents of both Kampala and Wakiso district, a number of challenges cropped up which limited the registration.
She said they failed to reach people whose households were enclosed in fences and also those residents who go to work early. She also claimed that it was not easy to penetrate homes with fences and sometimes even when they knocked; there are those who deliberately refused to open their gates and doors.
However, the ministry assumed that the residents of both Kampala and Wakiso who were not successfully registered were the ones who could afford nets. This however was disputed when residents fought for the nets.
Therefore, to whom should we put the blame; the ministry of health that failed to wait upon the working residents or the residents themselves who refused to stay at home to be registered.