MARTHA LEAH NANGALAMA: Health Minister Dr. Ruth Aceng needs problem solvers, not critics

Martha Leah Nangalama


On Friday, March 20, 2020, Ugandan Minister of Health, Dr. Jane Ruth Aceng shouted back at a foreigner on quarantine to shut as she struggled to offer solutions to COVID-19.

Uganda has not registered a single case of the virus.

Uganda and particularly this indefatigable minister, need Problem Solvers, not Critics. These are tough times. If you cannot suggest a solution, then please do not stop those who are working towards solutions. ANYONE CAN BE A CRITIC! “Shut up while I am talking”!! What is it that Ugandans want?

Many of you dissing Dr. Jane Ruth Aceng have been all over social media bragging about how Uganda has no single case of Coronavirus (Covid-19). Exactly how do you think this is possible? VIGILANCE. When Dr. Aceng told a foreigner to shut up while she was talking, she was completely justified.

Let me give you an idea of how Dr. Aceng handles criticism. I have confronted her on Twitter many times. Not once has she ever told me to shut up. On the contrary, she usually says “Please share the information which I may not have seen”. I usually comply and send her the links to the news or research. She is a very polite woman. She has the patience of an angel. Now, you all go criticizing her and forget that Uganda does not have any cases of this Pandemic because of her vigilance. She has been very vigilant. She knows how our broken healthcare system is and she is looking out for you and your families. WHAT MIGHT SHE BE GOING THROUGH?

Uganda’s Health Minister, Dr. Jane Ruth Aceng. (PHOTO: File)
  1. Read updates from WHO (World Health Organisation) daily, even hourly. Day and night. Every day that ends in Y.
  2. Read CDC information and current status of the pandemic and she has to then formulate a plan with CDC and WHO about how she can help Uganda. Centre of Disease Control (USA).
  3. Read AU information about the state of African nations and what each country should do to minimize the pandemic impact on our poor countries. Poor in like our health systems suck big time.
  4. Read and coordinate with all the authorities in the neighbouring countries and work with them to help Uganda.
  5. Read news feeds constantly to find out what is going on in other countries around the world. She is basically reading news from all key media houses from around the world. She is likely doing this day and night.
  6. Coordinate with other authorities in Uganda to ensure that she puts out a Presser which will explain to the nation of 44mln people what the government is doing. She must also ensure that she does not communicate in a way that could cause PANIC.
  7. Dr. Aceng is also aware that millions of Ugandans do not read. She is aware that those who read get “accurate” or near accurate information off social media and in Uganda media.
  8. She is likely sleeping only 4hrs daily if she is even lucky to get that.
  9. She must respond to journalists, news reporters, bloggers and activists in Uganda. Then media outside Uganda (The Great Lakes Region). Respond to Africa media. Respond to Global media. All this being done while she is coordinating with developed and underdeveloped countries to see how Uganda can handle the epidemic. The other day, I thought of her typical conversation with the Minister of Health of Rwanda.
    “Hello, my friend and fellow doctor. We have heard that you got some cases. We have none yet but please help me to help us so that Uganda does not get any cases. Now, if we get any cases, could I please count on you to help me to help my people”?….Something like that anyway.

Is Dr. Aceng the one who is supposed to pay for your hotel while you are in isolation? Is she the Minister of Finance? How much money has the Uganda government given to Ministry of Health to quarantine and feed people while they await to test positive or negative?

Is Dr. Aceng responsible for school closures and all other businesses being closed? Yes, she has said that Uganda has no single case of Corona. However, the job of closing things down is the responsibility of the Ministry of Disaster & Rehabilitation. It certainly isn’t Dr. Aceng’s area. Her job is to work with the little we have to keep Ugandans safe. Is Dr. Aceng responsible for your ensuing unemployment, hunger, lack of basic necessities?

Her job is not to give you jobs, not to give you food, not to drive around bringing you toilet paper and sanitizer. Ask your central government or your MP. GIVE HER A BREAK!

President Museveni stresses a point while delivering an address Wednesday March 18. (PHOTO: FIle)

And on that criticism about returning Ugandans being stuck at Entebbe. Well, in our country, if you can fly to and fro to Dubai, London UK, NYC and Toronto Canada, you usually have money. If you as opposition, journalist, activist, blogger and naysayer is concerned about those people being stuck at Entebbe airport or at the hotel where they are being quarantined….if you are concerned about why Dr. Aceng is not paying for everything….why Dr. Aceng is not coming to each of you to shake your hand…if you are concerned about no free food… THEN GO ASK PRESIDENT YOWERI MUSEVENI.

We are undergoing an epidemic with disastrous effects nearing the Great Depression of WWII. We have not had such a Pandemic in over 50ys. What do we do when our house is burning? We all pick up a bucket and or jerrycan, we run to the well, we return with water (amass) and then we put out the fire.

Tomorrow, I am going to write about Disaster Preparedness. This is an area in which I have decades of work experience. I will be suggesting to President Yoweri Museveni how we should set up a functioning DRP team for the country. My experience comes from Hurricane Katrina.

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