We need a contingency plan, not predictions

Friday July 23 2021
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Police officers on patrol in Kampala on July 14 during the Covid-19 lockdown. Police have been engaged in running battles with the people who continue to flock the city. PHOTO/ABUBAKER LUBOWA

By EDITOR

The National Planning Authority (NPA) took the bold stance this week to predict that there is no imminent threat of a third wave of Covid-19 pandemic in the country. According to a July 21 article published by Daily Monitor, NPA based its prediction on a weekly model projections which indicate a decline in continuing new cases.

But the stance by an Authority that is entrusted with planning on behalf of the nation is unfortunate as it could send the wrong message to the population -- with dire results in the near future. Already, Ugandans appear to have let their guard down as reports indicate that multitudes have started thronging the city centre to engage in their businesses even before the current wave of the pandemic has been defeated.

For a country that still struggles to effectively predict rainfall in the 21st Century, it is indeed very bold of NPA to attempt to predict patterns of a virus that has proven invincible and elusive to even the best scientists in the world.

Last year, skeptics insisted that the government was doctoring Covid figures to get funding support but the second wave debunked such theories as the numbers became names. These names, of persons we know, or of dear ones, became numbers and epitaphs. Skeptics could no longer say “Covid is a hoax.” 

However, the biggest tragedy that the second wave of the deadly respiratory disease exposed was lack of planning. It was barely a month after the Budget reading that the government went seeking for Shs600b in emergency funding to mitigate the effects of the second wave (Daily Monitor, July 7). The Treasury took to enforcing budget cuts to raise the supplementary funds.

The country was still in the same place, or even worse, than it was the first time the virus forced a national lockdown in March last year. Relevant stakeholders, including NPA, had done no planning in the Budget estimates, leaving Uganda flatfooted when the second wave hit.

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In a country without an emergency fund, it is not enough to simply tell the citizens that they should not be wary of an imminent third wave of Covid-19 pandemic, but to start immediate preparations for a contingency plan. A few months back, “securing your future” trended as a manifesto; there is never a better time to start on this election pledge than now.

Like the Ministry of Health says, what the government needs is to prepare and anticipate another wave of this stubborn virus. The priority areas should be in sourcing for vaccines and equipping the health sector so that patients are not left to wish another death to clear bed space for them in the ICU. Oxygen units at national hospitals like Mulago should be boosted too.

We have been beaten once and it was understandable. The second one was regrettable. It would be damning if the country was beaten a third time.

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