Elizabeth Namuli

Elizabeth Namuli

COVID19 Depression: Leela Foundation Helps 80 Elderly People Rejuvenate

When coronavirus (COVID19) broke out in China in 2019, the World Health Organization (WHO) communicated that old people were more vulnerable to succumb to the killer virus and indeed many died.

Extra efforts were put in place to protect the global senior citizens from the virus which at the time had no cure or vaccines. The best way to protect people was through isolation, social distancing, wearing of masks and washing hands (sanitizing).

These measures have over the two years proven to be helpful but have come with negative social impacts like loneliness and depression. Globally, these negative impacts have greatly affected older people who have been disconnected from their children, relatives and friends.

The case has not been any different in Uganda where the media has reported old people dying of hunger and depression caused by the pandemic. The lockdowns put in place by government ensured that elderly people couldn’t access their relative for social support.

Well aware of that challenge, Leela Foundation has partnered with the directorate of ethics in the office of the president to help 80 elderly people in Nakawa Division, Kampala City to overcome the stress and depression caused by COVID19.

The 80 lucky beneficiaries, with support from Tirupati Group, were driven to Jinja City and given a weekend treat at the Source of the Nile Hotel to interact with like-minded people who had been affected by the pandemic.

“The feeling of being alone is the worst disease anyone of us can have. We have embraced them (elderly) and we have told them 'we are here for you'. That is a very big word, it means they no longer feel alone," said Kruti Juhi Barot, the founder of Leela Foundation, a charity organization, is quoted by Daily Monitor saying at the flagging off the elderly for the trip.

“So this trip is to get them out of that COVID stress that came with isolation and lack. The two years of covid19 have been tough years. So we want them to enjoy, have fun and bring back a smile on their faces. We are taking them to a five star hotel and they are going to ear amazing food, have an amazing time, entertainment and visit the Source of the Nile,” she added.

Lukia Nakadadma, the 3rd Prime Minister of Uganda and minister without Potfolio, speaking at the retreat in Jinja said it is good to bring old people together once in a while for a smile.

“These are people in most cases left alone in their homes; the children are gone and their grandchildren don't want to stay with them, so she is a grandparent alone in the house. The moment you bring that person here, to associate with others, you have added more years on that person. So if this goes around the country, it will be a good program” she noted.

The Indian Ambassador to Uganda Shri A. Ajay Kumar, lauded Leela Foundation and the Tirupati Group for helping the needy, especially the elderly through the tough covid19 period.

"I am very proud to stand here today to see that an NGO, run by an Indian family has earned a place in the minds of Ugandans in a very short time of their existence," Ambassador Kumar said.

Eunice Harriet Nalugya, a resident of Luzira, said this was her first trip ever since her retirement from prisons services in 2012. "I am so happy for this trip because ever since when I left prisons, I had never had an opportunity to go and get some fresh air and mingle with others," Nalugya, 77, said.

Florence Kyomugisha, 71, likened the elderly to children and that she was happy to be part of the selected 80. "Our years are like for children and once you are told you are going for a trip, we feel good and that is what I am feeling now," Kyomugisha, a resident of Naguru, said.

Uganda Has Received 1.6m Doses Of Pfizer COVID-19 Vaccine

Uganda’s COVID-19 vaccine capacity has grown further after the country received 1,674,270 doses of Pfizer vaccine from the US Government.

The ministry of health said the donation from the US government in support of the ongoing COVID-19 vaccination exercise.

This, according to the ministry of health and National Medical Stores, is the largest consignment of COVID-19 vaccines received to-date.

The US government donated 647,080 Moderna COVID19 vaccine doses on Sept 6 which have since been distributed to district across the country.

The US ambassador to Uganda Natalie E. Brown commented that the these vaccines are safe & highly effective. The US has donated 136M+ vaccine doses globally.

“The evidence is clear: these vaccines are safe & highly effective & one of the most important tools we have in reducing risk of COVID & bringing the pandemic to an end,” the ambassador said.  

Victoria University Permitted By NCHE To Conduct Online Exams

The National Council for Higher Education (NCHE) has granted permission to Victoria University to continue implementing the Emergency Open Distance and e-Learning system and to also conduct online examinations.

"I am pleased to inform you that after due consideration, the National Council for Higher Education has granted you permission to continue implementing the Emergency Open Distance and e-Learning system and to also conduct online examinations for only programmes accredited by the National Council for Higher Education for twelve (12) months," Rev Canon Kagume said in the 10th September letter to Victoria University vice chancellor.

The Rev Canon was responding to an 'application for renewal of permissions to implement emergency open, distance and e-learning (OdeL) and request for permission conduct online examinations’.

Since the break out of COVID19 leading to the closure of schools in the country, Victoria University turned to the internet to teach their learners and since then they have excelled at it and have now become the premier training site for tomorrow’s health professionals.

“Victoria University’s dedication to cutting-edge research, technology and collaboration with leading professionals enables our Health Science Faculty to provide one of the finest learning and teaching environments in the nation,” Victoria University Vice-Chancellor Dr. Lawrence Muganga recently said.  

He added: “Victoria University carries state-of-the-art Health Science Laboratories designed to transform health science education in Uganda with some of the most comprehensive health science education facilities in the country.”

Rotary, Stanbic Bank In Every Mother Counts Maternal Health Initiative Campaign

Stanbic Bank Uganda’s Maternal Health Campaign dubbed “Every Mother Counts” has received a big boost from Rotary International, Serve to Change Lives and other partners through a new programme.

The multi-partner Maternal, and Child Health (MCH) programme is dubbed “saving mothers and children together” comes to reinforce the attainment of global maternal and child health goal at local levels.

It will focus on five main areas including, empowering adolescent girls and young women, supporting antenatal care, delivering and postnatal care, enhancing capacity and motivation of MCH workers, enhancing advocacy through awareness creation for communities and infrastructure development/rehabilitation.

Together, the partners have also donated mama kits, oxygen concentrators, diapers/pampers, laryngoscopes-neonatal blades and other items to Kawempe National Referral Hospital on Sept.14.

Kawempe Referral Hospital was chosen as a focal beginning point because the facility has been grappling with high patient numbers and mortality deaths.

The Hospital receives over 4000 pregnant women a month from all parts of the country and delivers an average of 100 babies daily.

The hospital had the highest number of maternal deaths at 116, followed by Hoima (46), Masaka (38), Fort Portal (37) and Mbale RRH (33) according to the 2019/2020 Annual Health Sector Performance Report.

Speaking at the handover event for the MCH programme items, at Kawempe National Referral Hospital, Stanbic Bank Uganda Chief Executive, Anne Juuko said, increasing the maternal survival rate is an important goal for the community because it shows that they are addressing the one thing that binds communities together.

“This program complements Stanbic Bank’s ongoing Maternal Health campaign currently running under the theme 'Every Mother Counts' where, alongside our partners, we are contributing money and items to deal with the maternal health challenge,” Juuko said.  

The MCH program is expected to contribute to the new target of the Sustainable Development Goal 3 (SDG3) to accelerate the decline of maternal mortality by 2030.

Rotary International President, RIP Shekhar Metha, said Maternal and Child Health is one of the seven areas of focus of Rotary international.

Metha said, this program will be run by Rotary District 9213, which is already implementing a multi-year Maternal and Child program in the vulnerable communities of Uganda whose situation has been aggravated by the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic.   

Ultimately, the successful implementation of the program is anticipated to decrease unplanned pregnancies and increase antenatal attendance; reduce maternal and new-born mortality as well as severe morbidity, reduce perinatal and child mortality.

Implementation strategy

The project planned interventions will be implemented through partnerships and collaborations between the different key stakeholders using existing Rotary structures.

The planned outputs will be achieved through the strategic integration of the MCH programme activities into several ongoing closely related Rotary and government programmes.

All these interventions will be guided with evidence obtained from strong operational and patient centered research and innovation which could be supported through Rotary Clubs in Rotary District 9213.

Health Minister, Dr. Jane Ruth Aceng welcomed the programmes and said: “We are sure that this intervention will provide clean and safe delivery to our mothers at Kawempe Referral Hospital especially at this critical time when the country is battling the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Uganda’s rosy numbers

Uganda continues to make remarkable progress in improving the health of women and children.

The Maternal Mortality Ratio (MMR) for women aged 15-49 has slightly improved from 438 deaths per 100,000 live births in 2011 to 336 deaths per 100,000 live births in 2016, according to Uganda Bureau of Statistics latest data.                                  

Regardless of the slight improvement, the mortality of mothers is still unacceptably high with one woman out of every 49 women dying from maternal complication related to pregnancy or delivery.

While approximately 300 new-borns and infants and 20 mothers die from preventable causes daily, in Uganda (UBOS, 2017). The leading causes of maternal mortality are postpartum haemorrhage which contributes 36%, hypertensive disorders in pregnancy which contributes 13% and Sepsis which contributes 10%.

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