Monday April 27 2020
David R Walugembe
It has been predicted that Covid-19 might have more devastating impact on Africa due to the predominant ailing healthcare systems. However, greed more than covid-19 will lead to more deaths.
The offset of the deadly pandemic created some sense of unity and hope that people were going to put up a spirited fight against the common invisible enemy- the coronavirus.
Whereas some sections of the population initially underestimated the magnitude of the disease and preferred to carry on with their normal lives, its pandemic nature compelled majority of countries to go into total lockdown.
Given the unprecedented nature of the virus and events, I was optimistic that this outbreak was going to give us an opportunity to reflect about many things, especially the quality of our healthcare systems, and rethinking government, personal priorities and expenditures. I believed that the crisis would make us more decent and civilised humans.
However, the unfolding events since the outbreak have continuously put my assumptions in check! The stories of people who bribed their way out of the quarantine facilities were as baffling as the exorbitant charges levied against those who cooperated and agreed to be quarantined.
While still pondering over that, the indiscriminate flogging of people also got me questioning what exactly explains the increased normalisation and adoption of militaristic approaches to resolving non-military situations in Uganda.
And then came the confirmation of the first Covid-19 case in the country, which has since proved all my assumptions wrong. An assessment of most of the Covid-19 responses reveals that Ugandans have so far neither learnt nor forgotten anything from the current pandemic.
For example, the President has since seized the opportunity to single-handedly issue directives without offering meaningful approaches to what the government is doing to ensure the survival of the people beyond Kampala and surrounding areas, let alone the economy.
The opportunistic and cash-minded technocrats and politicians have also seized the Covid-19 crisis to siphon more resources from the national coffers.
Looking at the illicit and shameful allocation of Shs10b to the voracious legislators, for instance, is evident that almost everyone is looking for a way to benefit from the taxpayers’ money under the guise of fighting Covid-19.
From the unscrupulous legislators and technocrats, the competition for the taxpayers’ money has now trickled down to whoever has any form of authority, power or advantage over another. Take the example of shrewd Ugandans who have resorted to printing travel permits/ stickers and vending them at exorbitant prices!
This greed and scramble for taxpayers’ money has been ongoing and is responsible for the fragile health care systems in Uganda and other developing economies. It is the same greed that will facilitate unparalleled damage by Covid-19 in Africa as individualistic tendencies supersede the safety and prioritisation of the public good.
Plundering the economy and denying frontline healthcare workers personal protective equipment will not only lead to demotivation and subsequent neglect of duty but also the resultant fatalities.
This greed will exacerbate the vulnerability of the health system that urgently requires sustainable interventions such as strengthening the referral system.
And that is how greed unlike Covid-19, will kill more people!
Originally appearedin the Daily Monitor