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#Covid-19: Health Ministry launches community engagement strategy in Bugisu sub-region

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The Minister of State for Primary Health Care, Dr. Moriku Joyce Kaducu has launched the national community engagement strategy for covid19 response for the Elgon region.

The Launch follows the surging cases of Covid-19 pandemic in the country. Currently, there are 76,023,488 confirmed cases of COVID-19, including 1,694,128 deaths, reported to the World Health Organisation (WHO). Uganda has 31187 confirmed cases of Covid-19 and 231 deaths.

“All eyes were on people who were coming back into the country, but all this has changed. The disease is now in our communities and families and our approach has to change,” Dr. Kaducu said at Mbale Resort Hotel.

She said that at the beginning of this pandemic, the battlefield for the Covid-19 fight was focused on the International airport and border posts.

She told the leaders from 17 districts in the eastern region and Technical Inter-sectoral Committee on Covid-19 that the communities and families already have the tools to fight Covid-19 adding that the widespread community transmission requires extensive containment measures to prevent further spread.

“With this community strategy largely focusing on home-based care, we want people to be responsible for their safety and the safety of their family members,” she said.

Professor Francis Omaswa, the chairperson of the national community engagement strategy subcommittee said that the strategy calls for strong leadership at all levels, political, cultural, and religious working together to fight COVID19.

“The strategy provides for the formation of village COVID19 task forces that will support in surveillance and case detection, contact tracing and management, shielding of vulnerable members and creating awareness through information and education of the people,” Omaswa said.

He added that the most important aspect of Covid-19 prevention is that health is made in homes and hospitals are for repairs.

The District Health Officer of Mbale Dr. Wangisi Jonathan said the launch of the community strategy and its implementation is a timely intervention for the district.

“There is stigmatization of people who have recovered from Covid-19 or lost loved ones to the virus in communities, but we know this is due to lack of enough information. With continuous education and information sharing by the Village Health Teams, this will be addressed,” he said.

Wangisi also said that there are challenges in enforcing home isolation whereby people who are supposed to be quarantined are usually found moving around the home unmasked. He also pointed out the need to support health workers who have been at the frontline and have even lost colleagues, “They need a lot of psychosocial support and in managing stress-induced by what they are having to deal with in line of duty,” he added.

Wangisi said that he hoped the community strategy will help Mbale and all the districts in the region to address the challenges they are experiencing while trying to manage and contain COVID19.

The regional launch of the National Community Engagement Strategy for Covid-19 response is spearheaded by the Ministry of Health and the district local government and supported by Seed Global Health.

Dr. Bonaventure Ahaisibwe the Country Director of Seed Global Health said the need to engage communities in Covid-19 prevention and containment was identified by the Ministry of Health.

“This strategy involves conducting training from the district level, to sub-counties, parishes, and villages such that all the structures down to the grassroots are leveraged to minimize further spread of Covid-19.” Ahaisibwe said.

He added that the community engagement strategy for Covid-19 response is not only a shift in our response but also aims to reinforce the systems in place and use resources locally available to keep people healthy.

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