Health minister confident on COVID-19 fight
The Minister of Health, Dr Jane Ruth Aceng, has told Parliament that to strengthen surveillance and treatment services for COVID-19 in the country, an additional 220 health workers are being recruited on short term contracts of six months following approval by Cabinet.
“By end of last week, 40 Epidemiologists, 50 Medical Officers and 10 Medical Officers - Special Grade had been recruited,” Dr Aceng said, adding that recruitment of 50 nurses, 40 anesthetists and 10 laboratory technologists among others will be completed this week.
The minister was updating Parliament on the COVID-19 pandemic during the plenary sitting on Tuesday, 7 April 2020, with focus on the 14-day lock down that was announced by President Yoweri Museveni.
Aceng also said that in addition to ongoing clinical screening at border points, a nose and throat swab will be taken off and batch-tested at the Lubowa-based Uganda Virus Research Institute (UVRI).
“To ensure smooth flow of incoming cargo, the Ministry of Health aims to have a rapid turn-around time (up to 24 hours) by deploying alternative sample transportation,” she said.
She said that to ensure that the interventions in the l4-day lockdown have significant impact on control and slowing the spread of the virus and the disease to other geographical areas, a checklist has been developed for the response teams to follow.
“The Ministry of Health will give an accountability of the outcomes of the interventions and the impact it has had on the pandemic to the general population,” she said.
Aceng warned that according to projections by the World Health Organisation, 834,000 Ugandans will contract the COVID-19 by April and 3,336 will die of the virus.
Legislators, however, raised concern over the continued movement of people into the country through border points and the slow enforcement of the lockdown.
Hon. Lucy Akello (FDC, Amuru district) said that truck drivers are smuggling in passengers who go unchecked, endangering the lives of locals.
“Truck drivers are mingling with locals without being checked. They also hide people under their trucks and bring them into the country,” she said.
Hon. Kenneth Eituganane (Ind. Soroti County) said that since the lock down was effected on 30 March 2020, districts have been struggling to implement the directive.
“The district vehicles deployed lack fuel. Officials are bothering MPs to support them with fuel. The response by the Minister of Health is slow,” he said.
Since the pandemic was declared in China in December 2019, Uganda has as at 7 April 2020, registered a cumulative of 52 confirmed cases.