On March 11, the World Health Organisation (WHO) declared Covid-19 a pandemic after more than 1,000 cases had been confirmed worldwide. By that time, Uganda had not registered any case and for many Ugandans, the virus was a distant threat.
However, on March 21, Uganda registers her first case, a 36-year-old man who had travelled back from Dubai. To date, there are 52 confirmed cases in the country. Naturally, information about the virus has become more frequent and messages of how to prevent Covid-19 are being relayed on various media everyday.
It is, therefore, easy to think that everyone is fully informed about the disease, how it is spread and how it can be prevented, which is not true.
In a story, ‘Dysentery outbreak in Kalangala,’ in the Daily Monitor of April 9, Godfrey Adubi, the Kalangala District health inspector, said the dysentery outbreak is linked to residents abandoning use of pit-latrines for fear of contracting coronavirus.
Adubi says the residents claim they will contract coronavirus if they use the only public pit-latrine in the area, which was used by a positive Covid-19 case. The district confirmed its first case of Covid-19 on March 29.
It is absurd that because of misinformation, the district now has to grapple with a dysentery outbreak. This points to the need to have continuous sensitisation of the masses on coronavirus.
We must not assume that everyone is now fully sensitised about the virus. These messages must also be relayed in local languages as some media are now doing for maximum comprehension.
Apart from disseminating guidelines and orders to the masses, the latter should be made aware that they are key players in the prevention endeavour rather than just recipient of government directives.
Their concerns and questions must be answered to avoid misconceptions and misinformation as is the case with Kalangala. Communication with authorities should be two-way, with forums created to aid it.
This way, myths can be debunked and unscrupulous people claiming to have cures to the pandemic can also be rooted out. Without the masses, including those in rural areas fully engaged and correctly informed about the disease, following the guidelines and keeping the disease at bay, will not be a mean feat. Therefore, let’s not falter on the sensitisation front. To beat Covid-19, we need concerted effort.