The COVID-19 pandemic, Health Inequities and the last moments with Rev. Fr. Lokodo
When H.E. the President addressed the UN against vaccine nationalism, a few people thought it was mere Pan Africanism as espoused by the Head of State as he has always done.
Access to vaccine, treatment and health care is a fundamental human right that touches on life and death. It is however not mentioned in the fight to ensure universal vaccination.
Access to quality health care and affordable treatment should equally be put on the agenda of world leaders as Covid-19 treatment inequitably affects the vulnerable people especially the elderly, the women, the PWDs, the minorities and the poor.
On 29th January, 2022, Rev. Fr. Lokodo succumbed to Covid-19 upon being admitted in Switzerland Hospital.
Shockingly, the first message the Embassy received was the demand note of over 20,000EU. So for those who have been crying about Uganda, you should not get sick abroad where only insurance works to mitigate the bills/costs.
Despite insurance from Uganda, Rev. Fr. Lokodo’s bills could not be absorbed easily without government intervention.
This contestation may delay access to health care or in fact quicken the same, depending on your status!Here in Uganda, people had to surrender their land titles and collaterals before ICU admission.
This is terrible as it erodes confidence in our health care systems.In a world of inequality and diversity, it is apparent that most Africans or Ugandans in diaspora will always experience inequitable a access goods and services even where systems seem to be ready to absorb.
There is institutionalized racism and inequity in the entire value chain of access to quality health care and medication in European Countries.
It is a shame that the world lacks a universal health care system which would treat everybody the same in case of health challenges while travelling abroad.
The cost of health care insurance is equally unaffordable to most Ugandans hence propagating health inequities.
The cost of health care is a true manifestation of inequality. The more wealth one has, the better access to quality health care either abroad or even in Uganda.
In some instances, the rich and wealthy may be airlifted while the poor and vulnerable are dying. In Kenya for instance and Dubai, medical tourism is high on agenda.
The Covid-19 pandemic has hit the fault lines of inequity and inequality in access to health care.
However, good weather conditions and good leadership under H.E the President has been key in mitigating Uganda’s Coivid-19 pandemic challenges.
In other countries, such as USA and Europe, the winter is exacerbating the situation, people are actually freezing and dying of cold.When the cold attacks the patient, it is another Covid on its own merit!
The wheezing winter can make the situation worse from mere acceptable unwellness we are accustomed here in Uganda. In essence, weather pattern can play a big role in mitigating the impact and spread of the pandemic, on a population.
Indeed life started in Africa, probably in Uganda. Rev. Fr. Lokodo attended all the meetings in Geneva, contributing and joking about his record in service. I bet if it was in Uganda, the situation would have been different but for the weather and readiness of health care and social support, he could not navigate through with multiple Covid-19 variants. It is therefore sad, that it still remains a big cost to repatriate his body back home. One week in Geneva was all his soul had waited for, to escape his body.
It is therefore necessary for government to focus on Covid-19 vaccination but more importantly on affordable, accessible quality health care in Uganda.
Perhaps it is time to overhaul the proposed social health insurance scheme with new challenges paused by the Covid-19 pandemic with an equity lense in the perspective.
The writer is Mujuni Benard (Esq) Legal & Policy Specialist. (Part of the UPR Delegation to Geneva).