Uganda, Kampala: Irene Nakakande, 34, Deputy Executive Director at Somero Uganda
As Lucy sits near her window to welcome yet another day, she can’t help but thank God for having enabled her to enter into day 7 of the 21 days of extended lockdown.
Like any other Ugandan, Lucy is worried about how much of the food she stocked is still available in her blue bucket and how long it will sustain her family during this lockdown. But far from that, Lucy is more troubled by her little son Martin who was diagnosed with sickle cell anaemia at birth. …
… Of course, there is a lot to worry as with the weather changes these days; she doesn’t know if her little son will be spared from a crisis soon.
Martin’s health situation does not worry Lucy alone but once in a while her close friends, relatives and workmates including her supervisor give her a call to ask if Martin is still okay.
The biggest cause of Lucy’s worry for her son’s health is not that there is no treatment in the health facilities, although sometimes she is not able to get all the drugs prescribed by the doctor and has to buy them at the pharmacy, but her major concern is that with the ban of public transport and the use of private cars, how can she be able to rush Martin to the health facility in case of an emergency.
Note that Lucy does not own a private car, but she can always call on her friends to support in case of an emergency. Thinking about this, Lucy also remembers that the stocked drugs that Martin has to take daily are also running out, including one hard to find and therefore somewhat expensive drug.
At this point, Lucy thinks she and the other Ugandans have involuntarily walked into a tunnel and are yearning to reach its end.
With 63 Corona virus cases registered by Uganda to date, like other nations, Uganda has set up some strict measures to curb the spread of the deadly Corona virus. Among these include the closure of schools, churches, and all other activities that call for public gatherings, banning of public transport and the use of private cars. „Boda Bodas“ are also not allowed to carry any passenger.
More to that is the closure of non- essential supply businesses and a curfew that starts at 7:00 pm EAT. Fortunately, with the measures, Uganda‘s new registered Corona virus cases have increasingly reduced.
Unfortunately, several health challenges are presenting, including how people get to and from health facilities. Hundreds of discharged cancer patients are stranded at the National Referral Hospital in Mulago, wondering how to get home.
These are now exposed to the risk of catching other diseases like malaria and the majority are struggling with feeding as they wait to find means of getting to their homes. Similarly, hundreds are stranded at home as they cannot meet their next appointments .
Now, this also goes for other patients with health challenges like diabetes, sickle cell disease, HIV patients among others. There are pregnant women whose labour period is near and others who have to go for ante-natal services but wondering how to get to the facilities. Some of these mothers have given birth at the roadside as they try to walk to the hospitals.
What happens to the HIV patients whose current drug delivery services of the government cannot reach out to them because they do not have telephones and the information they shared at the health facilities for their areas of residence was not so exact due to fear of bleach of confidentiality and community stigma.
What is the fate for mothers whose immunization appointments fall within this lockdown period! Not to forget the general “wanainchi” (common man) who may generally fall sick.
No wonder Lucy is really thinking hard for she missed Martin‘s hospital appointment that was scheduled for 2/04/2020.
As one walks through the tunnel, one cannot stop but wonder how smooth this journey will be. There is already cause to compromise the balanced diet for the vulnerable groups like the sick, children, pregnant women in a bid to ration the available food to take one through the tunnel.
It is, therefore, no surprise that cases of domestic violence are on the rise and it will be no surprise that cases of malnutrition will increase.
Amidst all this, Lucy like any other Ugandan has hope that she will get to the end of the tunnel and be able to see the sun shine again. However, she is again uncertain about what will happen at the end of the tunnel.
Will the sun shine as bright as it used to or will there be darkness again as is in the tunnel? With no answer to this question, Lucy who is now too tired shuts her window and expires to wait for yet another day to come, and maybe to get to the end of the tunnel.