By Rodgers Katwesigye
Uganda has been in a lockdown for close to two months now and most of how we used to live our lives has changed. The ramifications of COVID-19 in Uganda have been enormous with the education sector largely suspended, loss of income and leaving many in urban and peri-urban settings barely able to afford a meal. On the flipside, it has raised awareness of core hygiene issues so many people always ignored, and it has made the issue of fake news and lack of credible information a serious one. It is also forcing many countries to address their woefully underfunded health systems.
The unique thing about this virus is that it is a novel infection and we are all learning what to do. However, we live in a modern world with advanced technology and experts than ever before and we are learning very first. You can imagine how much we now know about this virus in just a few months of it emerging in Wuhan, china. It is not known how long it will take to develop a treatment or a vaccine though some sources say a potential vaccine could be just months away.
The reality is that we cannot just wish the virus away, at least for the foreseeable future and we all have to learn to live with this virus, to do our businesses and have social relations with this virus in our presence. We do not have to be continuously having to be in lockdown because of the fear of infections that can occur. We are not going to shut ourselves at home and lose our minds for the next weeks and months. This thing is not going to ruin our lives. We just cannot let it.
This means that we must quickly find our steady living state where the “abnormal is the new normal”. We must have a discussion on a phased lockdown exit strategy for the country to enter a “new normal”. Taking sensible measures of self-distancing, avoiding risky gatherings, and wearing facemasks in public, we can start getting back to work to plan our new future, or we could quickly be left behind. Economies are changing and Business models that may have worked just a couple of weeks ago may be obsolete. New technologies have emerged such as effective automation and the need to redesign processes to be more efficient. All this will pass by us if we continue to wallow in paranoia, fear and allow ourselves to be sucked into a vortex of negativity.
It is time to get back to work because COVID-19 may not be going away anytime soon. I pray that we come back as a hygiene-conscious society, a little more humble, socially conscious and most importantly care more for our people, our health, our education, and our planet.
Rodgers Katwesigye is a member Pharmaceutical Society of Uganda. He holds Master’s Degree in Pharmaceuticals and Health Supplies Management from Makerere University and an Implementation Scientist certified by University of California, San Francisco.