By Bahikire Daraus
Rewinding the memories of ambulance sirens during the peaks of Covid19 makes me feel dizzy .It is deceitful to think that Covid19 is a gone case.
In the weekly media briefing on Covid19 held on March 2022, Dr. Ahmed Ogwal, Director at Africa CDC communicated that since the declaration of the pandemic, Africa has so far registered 12.2 M cases with 256739 deaths, sadly recording 242 new cases. This kind of data should serve as a signal for us to do away with complacency related to Covid19.
With Uganda case ,every individual household felt the wrath of the pandemic .Schools closed, businesses collapsed ,job were lost ,teenage pregnancy shot to unexpected levels, and to the most extreme, lives were lost . To-date, Uganda has recorded over 3600 deaths from Covid19. I commiserate with families that lost their dear ones especially for those whose deceased were sole breadwinners.
When the declaration of the outbreak was made in Uganda, there was general skepticism; mis and disinformation were hoovering via both online platforms and communities with claims that the disease was a hoax, a political weapon to ban political rallies at a time when Uganda was heading for general presidential and parliamentary elections. Fortunate or unfortunate enough, the first case of Covid19, a 36-year-old male from Dubai detected at Entebbe international airport in March 2020 awakened the population to the reality of the situation.
Standard operating procedures as part of the global prevention measures that included handwashing, social distancing and masking were put in place. Unfortunately, these interventions were initially perceived as an inconvenience.
In the year 2021, vaccination commenced with safe, free and highly effective vaccines. With extensively available evidence of efficacy, uptake remained minimal in the first months of the exercise with allegations of causing sickness, impotence, and deaths, among others.
Thank God, many people flocked vaccination sites in quest for services after widespread-shared images of the dead and hospitalization on oxygen across the globe caused by corona virus.
It took international, regional and national efforts to invest heavily in risk communication and community engagement to create awareness for the virus to enhance risk perception so that people observed Sops and embraced vaccination.
For Uganda, 33M people were targeted for vaccination .As of Mid-2022, only 12.5M, which represents 37.8 % of the target, had been vaccinated, leaving about 17.5 M Ugandans unvaccinated. This calls for strengthened mobilization and awareness creation to improve demand for vaccines to raise the vaccination coverage.
It is rather disheartening to see people astonishingly forget all the sour experiences caused by the pandemic ,vaccination that saved lives is still taken for granted yet it is the only savior from severe infection ,hospitalization and deaths .
Global ,regional and national data gives evidence that the virus is still with and around us .In England, wales ,North Ireland ,Scotland have registered an increasing number of cases since the start of the year 2023.
A single infected individual poses an infection risk to the entire country and the world.All the worries about Covid19 can be condensed by all of us getting vaccinated .The target is to have 70% of all the qualified population in Africa vaccinated .
Launched in April 2022, the Africa Union set up the Bingwa initiative as part of the Africa CDC’s wide Programme of Saving Lives and Livelihoods consisting of locally based vaccination champions to accelerate vaccinate initiative should be supported by individual responsibility to appreciate the need to get vaccinated.
On availability of vaccines, the Saving Lives and Livelihoods initiative, among other obligations is acquiring vaccines for more than 65 million people, supporting the delivery of vaccinations to millions across the continent. The Saving Lives and Livelihoods initiative is a three-year, US $1.5 billion partnership between the MasterCard Foundation and the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) designed to save the lives and livelihoods of millions of people in Africa and hasten the economic recovery of the continent in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. There is thus no need to worry about the availability of vaccines.
It is our responsivity to secure individual and community health as health security should be every one’s priority.
Get vaccinated .Shoot Your Shot and contribute to health and wellbeing of communities sustainably.
Daraus, MPH, a Public Health Specialist (Health Promotion) is an Africa Union Covid19 Bingwa, under Africa CDC
He is also the founder and executive director for Purpose Health Care Africa, an organization championing community led disease interventions for sustainable health and wellbeing.