Streamline Covid-19 vaccine distribution

Wednesday July 21 2021

This photo taken on July 2, 2021 shows businessman Hamis Kiggundu (c) handing over Shs530m to Prime Minister Robinah Nabbanja (right) which cash he said was a donation to government to procure Covid-19 vaccines for Ugandans.He said some of the vaccines would be for his employees and tenants.Photo/Abubaker Lubowa

By Editor

Reports that experts have confirmed that some Ugandans in the corporate fraternity got shots of water for Covid vaccine sounds both idiotic and distressing. See Daily Monitor July 20. This shows some of us carry hearts of stone without any conscience for public good. This also shows our country is at the mercy of those whose only desire is to seek any gains from every opportunity, including through catastrophes as deadly as Covid-19.

We are lucky that this folly only ended in harmless and tasteless liquid – water – and not some kind of dangerous and quick replicating virus or something worse. In the latter case, it would be unimaginable what would have become of these 800 plus city dwellers and their circle of friends, family members, and co-workers. 
All those duped and falsely vaccinated were workers in well-structured entities with thorough procurement and well set up approval lines. Just how did this mishap happen, and where was the due diligence in these well-organised systems?

This misadventure sounds a warning that the responsibility for vaccines and their distribution should have been clearly publicized to shut out any fraudsters. But hot on the heels of this saga, the Health ministry was again on the defensive on questionable Covid vaccine deal with Kampala city business tycoon, Hamis Kiggundu.

The outrage from the public against this selective choice of who gets the life-saving doses is understandable. The government had locked out some Ugandans who desired to take the shot, prioritizing frontline medical workers, the armed forces, teachers and the elderly. It, therefore, confounds public opinion that some select tenants and workers of a private individual could be spared 2,000 of the barely one million AstraZeneca vaccine doses that Uganda only secured through donation from Covax, the governments of India, and France. Yet tens, if not hundreds of government’s own designated vaccination centres are without the doses.
For now, we know that government solely handles the Covid-19 vaccines without prioritizing any privileged tenants or workers. Government gets the vaccines into the country, is received by the Health ministry, which hands over to National Medical Stores that delivers to districts, which shares out to designated vaccination points. 

Going forward and to stop the ugly vaccine saga, the concerned authorities need to rethink responses to such challenges. As it is, we have a default reaction across government ministries, departments and agencies that are conditioned to go on defensive at the slightest exposition or criticism. 
A system that is open would be looking at how to address the issues being raised and not simply defend and deny but stop a repeat of the mess we have often gotten ourselves into, and walked into more messy grounds.