What you need to know:
- This tradition is sacrosanct and just like during the past two years, we continue to celebrate even as we deal with the continuing complications brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic. In fact, here in Uganda, we are experiencing another wave of the deadly disease.
This week the United States celebrates 246 years of independence, and around the world, Americans gather to honour the values that bind us together as a nation and to focus on the ongoing work to “form a more perfect union” as envisioned in our constitution. This tradition is sacrosanct and just like during the past two years, we continue to celebrate even as we deal with the continuing complications brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic. In fact, here in Uganda, we are experiencing another wave of the deadly disease.
As Kampala residents and as responsible neighbours, the US Mission in Uganda will continue to do all it can to help limit the spread of Covid-19 and its impact so we can keep our families, friends, and neighbours safe. One way I am doing this is by forgoing the embassy’s traditional July 4 reception – at which I would normally welcome 800 friends, officials, and partners – in favour of smaller outdoor events with attendance capped to around 100 people, allowing ample space for social distancing and facilitating contact-tracing, if required.
While this is not how I wanted to celebrate July 4 this year, it is important to acknowledge that Uganda and the US are much better positioned to deal with this Covid wave than the previous ones. That is no accident. Over the past year, Uganda has received 47 million vaccine doses, including 18 million from the US. The US has also worked hand-in-hand with Ugandan doctors, nurses, and public health experts to get vaccines in people’s arms across the country, to equip treatment facilities, and to train and outfit medical professionals.
US support for Uganda’s public health surveillance system also means that Covid’s spread can be effectively monitored and countered, and vaccine coverage can be tracked in real time so that gaps can be closed.
Our joint effort to address the Covid pandemic is yet another reminder of how the US and Uganda have stood together so many times to address rising problems and accomplish great things. We see that in the progress we have made toward eliminating HIV as a public health threat in Uganda in the almost 20 years since the US President’s Emergency Plan for Aids Relief (PEPFAR) was launched. We see that in the near elimination of mother-to-child transmission of HIV at birth, in the more than 50 percent decline in child mortality rates due to malaria since the US President’s Malaria Initiative was launched in 2006, in the impact of early US support for the development of Uganda’s coffee sector, which has generated $800 million of revenue over the past 12 months and provides income for 1.7 million Ugandan households.
During my recent travels I have also seen firsthand how US assistance is helping communities in northern Uganda rebuild following the trauma and destruction inflicted by the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) and how our joint efforts are helping to ease the suffering of more than 1.5 million refugees hosted in Uganda and lessen the burden on host communities.
Most of all, we see the impact of our investment in the capacity of the Ugandan people and in the people-to-people ties between our two countries.
Our partnership has always been strongest when it has been based on a shared commitment to transparency, community engagement, democratic principles, civil society leadership, and innovation among the American and Ugandan people.
Today we face a new set of challenges, from democratic backsliding globally to climate change and food insecurity exacerbated by Russia’s blockade of Ukrainian agricultural products. As we approach Uganda’s 60th anniversary of independence, the US renews it commitment to work hand-in-hand with all those dedicated to tackling these challenges and to building a healthy, prosperous, democratic, and secure Uganda.
Ms Natalie E Brown is the US Ambassador to Uganda.