Health desk -2 May 2021: Uganda imposed a lockdown in March 2020 to curb the spread of COVID-19. Yakobo Kahesi, 35, must double his community outreach efforts to help sick refugees gain access to Kampala Medical services. The capital of Uganda is home to more than 90,000 refugees.
Yakobo said: “As a front-line health worker, I made the choice to enter and leave the community and save lives.” Yakobo has a public health background and has more than 10 years of experience in dealing with refugees. He currently serves as the African Humanitarian Action (AHA). The medical business manager, the partner is a partner organization of UNHCR, UNHCR.
With the support of UNHCR and the WHO COVID-19 Solidarity Emergency Fund, AHA can help Kampala refugees access primary health care, tertiary health care, sexual and reproductive health, HIV/AIDS treatment, and community health. During the lockdown, their work has become more important because patients face more challenges in entering the hospital and urgently needed life-saving medical care.
Uganda hosts 1.4 million refugees, most of whom are from South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Burundi. 94% of refugees live in settlements in northern and southwestern Uganda, while 6% live in Kampala. By the end of March 2021, Uganda had registered a total of 40,751 COVID-19 cases. Among them were 398 refugees, 384 recovered and 7 died. The Ministry of Health launched a vaccination campaign in mid-March 2021, aiming to provide immunizations for 49% of the population, including refugees. During the entire lock-in period from March 2020 to May 2020, AHA provided patients with a shuttle service from home to the hospital and paid the bills of refugees who needed emergency treatment in private medical institutions. Through UNHCR, the WHO COVID-19 Solidarity Emergency Fund also helps AHA invest in awareness-raising activities to sensitize refugees to the risks and safety measures of COVID-19. The AHA was able to increase the number of village health team (VHT) volunteers to 230 and reach out to refugees in the most affected city of Kampala. These community-based health workers played a vital role during the pandemic, sharing life-saving information with the community, reporting positive cases and conducting contact tracking.