The Kalangala Woman Member of Parliament (MP), National Unity Platform (NUP)’s Hon. Hellen Nakimuli has asked government to take special interest in offering COVID-19 relief to Kalangala through the introduction of a special program tailored to rescuing islanders.
President Yoweri Museveni early this month re-imposed a strict lock down that included the closure of schools, shutdown of weekly open markets, suspension of religious services and inter-district travel to help beat back a surge in COVID-19 cases in the East African country.
Speaking to our reporter on Monday, Hon. Nakimuli alias ‘Maama Kalangala” revealed that despite the fact that effects of lock down have been felt everywhere, Islanders are severely affected given the under-privileged life they live due to inadequate social welfare .
‘’Kalangala has been severely hit by the effects of the lock down imposed to curb the spread of COVID-19. The acute poverty, poor markets for our goods, inadequate social services like education, healthcare , infrastructure and now accompanied by the lock down have left our people poverty stricken and desperate’’, said Nakimuli.
She adds that although some areas have benefited from special government interventions, Islands continue to be left out despite the unique socio- economic challenges that they face.
She cited poverty indicators in Islands like child labor and early marriage due to high level of school dropout, malnutrition, domestic violence and others.
‘’The Office of the Prime Minister should come up with a special emergency fund for Islanders different from what other areas are getting since our people here have more acute challenges ‘’, added Nakimuli.
Prior to the COVID-19 Relief, Nakimuli has tasked the government to formulate special principles and policy guidelines under the National Development plan with a view of enhancing the development of the Islands for Clean water, proper education and health care, infrastructure among others.
She wants the government to offer Water Ambulances and emergency response boats to landing sites so as to improve emergency response amidst the current health crises caused by Covid-19.
‘’ Water transport is the only way people in this area can access the islands and the mainland and this comes with challenges. Prior to COVID-19 patients who have other cases that may need emergency transport. An expectant mother hopes for a normal and safe delivery just like any other woman on earth. But for women in the islands, it is a matter of life or death’’, she added.
Nakimuli, a volleyball player and President COBAP ‘UG VC says the health centres on the islands are surrounded by water and can only handle ordinary deliveries. In case of C-sections, expectant mothers would need to be ferried to other areas, where they can be operated on.
Nakimuli has urged the district officials around the islands to sensitize different members of the public on how to maintain standards of operation such as wearing masks and washing hands.
She says islands should have lowered infant mortality rate, a lowered maternal mortality rate, better birth outcomes for both mother and child, and a lowered HIV rate which will equate to healthier communities, a dream that can only be achieved through proper social services.
Made up with 84 islands, only 7 islands in Kalangala are with health facilities receiving increased number of cases from all over the district.
About 500,000 homes will benefit from the government stimulus fund for COVID-19 which is meant to sustain the vulnerable. Dissimilar to the previous relief aid, the government this time will disburse cash rather than dry rations, as the latter did not work previously.