2,000 paramedics to fight Covid in schools

The president of Uganda National Students Association, Mr Yusuf Welunga, addresses some of the Makerere University paramedic students yesterday. The students are being trained to handle Covid-19 in schools. PHOTO / ABUBAKER LUBOWA

What you need to know:

  • Under the arrangement, the students will be presented to the Ministry of Health before they are deployed to various schools across the country.

Makerere University in partnership with the Uganda National Students Association (UNSA) have started training final year paramedics to combat Covid-19 infections in schools.

Under the arrangement, the students will be presented to the Ministry of Health before they are deployed to various schools across the country.

The idea is to avert a health crisis in hospitals. A total of 1.5 million learners are expected to return to school next week when schools reopen. 

The deputy principal of College of Veterinary Medicine, Animal Resources and Biosecurity, Prof Samuel Majalija, yesterday said the university is skilling the final year paramedical students from various institutions with additional knowledge to test for Covid-19 using antigens.


Reinforcement

“In case of manpower shortage, we shall provide more to support Covid-19 testing in schools using antigens, which is the recommended procedure. We have started the training with Makerere University finalists before handling those from other nursing and laboratory institutions,” Prof Majalija said.

The training, which started yesterday, targets a total of 2,000 paramedical students who have since completed their bachelors’ degree and are waiting to graduate.

These students are not subjected to internships like their medical colleagues.

Dr Andrew Nsawotebba, the trainer of trainees at African Center for Disease Control (CDC), said the paramedical students are slated to be taken through both theory and practical work in handling Covid-19 cases and testing.

According to him, trainees will be taken through pre-training tests, Covid-19 antigen testing, sample collection, quality assurance and diagnostics.

The trainees will also be taken through school-based surveillance, data and information management and post training tests among other skills required to handle Covid-19 patients.

“These are students with some knowledge about laboratory work, so they are just going to be taken through three days training and those who qualify will be given certificates issued by African Society of lab medicine to start conducting Covid-19 testing,” Dr Nsawotebba said.

“For one to be able to attain this certificate given to all people testing Covid-19 in the country, he or she must score 100 percent in theory and 80 percent in practical work to be given a green light to test for Covid-19,”Dr Nsawotebba added.

The UNSA president, Mr Yusuf Walunga, said students will be deployed in various districts with the help of Ministry of Health and if any schools suspect any Covid-19 cases in their institution, the trainees will be dispatched to test and isolate the affected students,”Mr Walunga said.  “The Ministry of Health should be able to provide the trainees with testing kits to be used in schools. We are going to approach them next week with the team of our trainees for deployment,” Mr Walunga said.

He said the schools will only incur the cost of transport for the trainees.

Meanwhile, Mr Walunga asked President Museveni to reverse the curfew on boda bodas ahead of reopening of schools next week.

“Adjustment on the decision against boda boda time of operation should be from 7pm to at least 11pm because some students are on evening programmes, most of the students and some teachers largely depend on boda boda transportation methods compared to vehicles as they are faster, more so in highly congested areas like Kampala, Wakiso,” Mr Walunga said.

Addressing the nation on New Year’s Eve, Mr Museveni lifted curfew on all other sectors apart from boda bodas.

Mr Paul Simangi, a bio-medical lab technology finalist student, said they are ready to act as volunteers provided they are deployed in schools within the districts they come from to avoid unnecessary transport cost.

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