KAMPALA – The Executive Committee leaders of Uganda Local Governments Association – ULGA have urged the Central Government to earmark a National Month of Action to mobilize all teaching and non-teaching staff to get vaccinated at District and lower Local Government level, to facilitate the re-opening of all learning institutions in Uganda.
“This will ensure the safety of our children and other Ugandans from the global pandemic,” said Joseph Lomonyang, President ULGA and District Chairperson, Napak at Protea Hotel, Kampala on Friday.
Mr. Lomonyang said that online learning which the government resorted to following the national lockdown is not affordable especially in rural communities.
“This digital divide has exacerbated educational inequalities among children. The lockdown has also exposed a good number of children to early marriages, sexual vulnerability, juvenile delinquency and crime among others,” he said.
The Local Government leaders have also decried numerous challenges that are so critical and systemic, saying that they threaten to diminish the decentralization promise envisaged by the policymakers if not addressed by the Central Government.
“These include, inadequate financing and investment in human resources and facilities, weak systems in place and poor coordination, conflicting legislation among others. Our call, therefore, is that as we commemorate this significant day, Central Government should pay critical attention to the decentralization agenda for improved service delivery.”
ULGA, however, appreciated the government for having embraced the decentralization agenda.
“Through this, a number of achievements have been realized including political devolution, where citizens are enabled to choose their leaders periodically through adult suffrage, promotion of area-based planning which increased access to the quality of social services in Local Governments, among others.”
In regard to the current Covid-19 pandemic, the leaders have applauded the Government for providing “good stewardship and the strategic direction” to the public in combating the spread of this deadly disease in Uganda.
“We also applaud the Ministry of Health, the National Task Force chaired by the Prime Minister, the District Covid Task Forces and all other stakeholders that have played a crucial role in ensuring Covid -19 spread is controlled,” they said.
They have also lauded the government for securing a total of 1,139,260 doses of AstraZeneca vaccines that have been issued to Ugandans countrywide as optimal control of the pandemic.
As of August 9, 2021, a cumulative total of 904,601 people received their first dose while a total of 250,664 have received their second dose of the vaccine, totaling 1,157251 doses of AstraZeneca fully administered to Ugandans out of the eligible 22 million people to be vaccinated to date.
However, the leaders revealed that much as the government has resumed mass vaccinations with priority to teachers, health workers, the elderly persons and those between 18 to 50 years with underlying health conditions, the pace of vaccination within their locations especially for the priority category remain slow.
According to them, this could be attributed to misinformation provided to the public regarding the safety of the vaccines that is trending mainly on social media platforms and the personal experiences shared by some that got the doses that tend to create fear among the respective communities.
ULGA has called upon all Local Government leaders to support the Ministry of Health by providing the right information to the public about the safety of the vaccines, “in order to dispel the myths and scary rumors around the safety of Covid-19 vaccination, that many people are reading through social media, for example, the belief and myth that the vaccines were a ploy by the Western Countries to control the population in Africa.”
“We also call upon local government councilors to leverage their leadership role and community mobilization mandate, working closely with the District Covid Task Forces to encourage our people to go for vaccinations. The faster we embrace the facility, the better for us to continue the pursuit of the daily livelihoods with reduced interactions and constraints arising from the Pandemic.”