As the country gears up for partial reopening after 42 days of lockdown, doctors under their umbrella organisation, the Uganda Medical Association (UMA), have listed six options that government should undertake to prepare for the third wave of Covid-19, which is expected to hit the country within the next three to six months.
The doctors say the government should make it a point to complete the vaccination of the targeted 21.9 million Ugandans in the next six months.
“Without Covid vaccination, another round of mass cases and deaths will be inevitable, investment in strict observance of the standard operating procedures (SOPs), infection prevention and control measures and cases will help reduce this,” the doctors said in a statement issued on Friday by the President of UMA, Dr Richard Idro.
Uganda has administered at least 1.1 million doses of vaccines. However, the country has been depending on donations, citing global shortage of vaccines which has delayed the vaccination process.
According to UMA, there is need to boost the health system capacity such as provision of enough personal protective equipment (PPE), establish Intensive Care Units (ICU) and High Dependency Unit (HDU) in all regional referral hospitals.
The medics noted that during this second wave, some patients died due to lack of oxygen, HDU and ICU beds as ambulances queued in hospital parking lots.
UMA states that the only functional public ICUs with the ability to offer ventilation to critically-ill patients are in Mulago and Mbarara hospitals. That, he says, explains why a highly trained paediatrician, Dr Milly Grace Arach, died after failing to get admitted into an ICU in Gulu.
1. Vaccinate 21.9 in next six months
2. Build treatment capacity-Establish ICUs and HDUs in regional referrals, provision of enough PPEs and oxygen, etc.
3. Employ, care for and pay health workers well
4. Educate the public on home-based care.
5. Improve health infrastructure to manage other illnesses as well, assent to the National Health Insurance scheme.
6. Establish discussions on school reopening, restructuring of learning.