Govt accused of double standards in Ebola fight

Participants prepare to take part in the MTN Kampala Marathon on November 20, 2022. PHOTO/HANDOUT

What you need to know:

  • The State is accused of double standards in implementing anti-Ebola policies.

Citizens have raised concerns in regard to the government’s commitment to the fight against Ebola.
This follows the MTN-Uganda marathon that was organised on Sunday.

The annual marathon was attended by more than 20,000 runners, including the Prime Minister, Ms Robinah Nabbanja, who flagged off the participants. 

Also in attendance was the Health ministry’s Permanent Secretary,  Dr Diana Atwiine,  and Kampala Capital City Authority executive director Dorothy Kisaka

However, about a fortnight ago, the government in a bid to minimise the spread of the Ebola virus, cut short the school calendar by two weeks.

One of the concerned citizens, Mr Jeje Odea, tweeted after the marathon: “Schools are closing two weeks earlier because of Ebola, yet adults are converging in thousands to sweat, one of the easiest ways of spreading the disease. How do you convince one that the Ebola card is not a gig to attract international sympathy and hence foreign donations.”

Likewise, former presidential candidate and the president of National Unity Platform (NUP), Mr Robert Kyangulanyi, aka Bobi Wine, tweeted: “Today, regime officials graced a marathon with thousands of people.

Robinah Nabbanja, Diana Atwiine from the Ministry of Health, etc.! The same regime has kept the people of Mubende and Kassanda under a lockdown to apparently control Ebola and closed schools two weeks before time!” 

Mr David Lewis Rubongoya, the secretary general of NUP, also accused the State of using double standards in the fight against Ebola after they postponed a football match organised by his party in Masaka District.

“They said it would spread Ebola! Today, the Permanent Secretary of the Health ministry participated in a marathon with thousands of people. Whoever, bewitched our country!” he said.

But the spokesperson at the Ministry of Health, Mr Emmanuel Ainebyona, last evening said: “Masaka has had a recent case reported and that is why we stopped that event from happening, it’s not like Kampala where most of the cases reported were just contacts.”

Ever since the Education ministry announced the shortening of third term, several music concerts have been organised, including the one of Edrisa Musuuza, aka Eddy Kenzo that pulled an estimated 30,000 revellers.

In a press statement issued yesterday in defence of the big crowds around the city, the Health ministry reasoned that the MTN-Uganda marathon did not pose any risk of transmission or spread of Ebola.

“The Ministry of Health would like to inform the general public that following consultations with the technical officers, the ministry cleared and authorised the MTN 2022 Marathon after assessing that the event posed no risk of Ebola transmission among the participants,” read the ministry’s statement.

“Unlike Covid-19, the risk of Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) transmission and spread is highest when people are symptomatic (presenting with signs and symptoms). With the screening measures in place at the MTN Kampala Marathon, no participant presented with any other symptom,” the statement added.

But another concerned citizen said: “Are you trying to lie that all participants in the marathon were screened?! Additionally, we would like to know how exactly this Ebola risk assessment is conducted.” 

The ministry also indicates that Kampala Metropolitan Area had no registered cases, which made it safe for the event to be staged.

The Ministry of Health declared an outbreak of the Ebola virus disease on September 20 after a male adult tested positive in Mubende District.  A total of 141 cases have been confirmed. There are 55 deaths and 79 recoveries. 

President Museveni recently imposed a lockdown on the districts of Mubende and Kassanda.

Other concerts held despite Ebola risk 

On November 11, artistes Oxlade [Nigerian] and Beenie man [Jamaica] had a show at the Lugogo Cricket Oval that attracted more than 500 revellers. 

Also on November 11, Gospel artiste Ada Ehi held a concert at Lugogo Hockey Grounds.

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