While Uganda was under total lock down, markets continued to operate with people going there in large numbers to sell or buy food, making them a high risk area. This prompted URCS (Uganda Red Cross Society) to approach MTN Uganda for funding to support the busiest markets with risk communication and Covid19 screening services. Subsequently MTN Uganda committed 297,328,000Ushs to Uganda Red Cross Society to support disease prevention and control in high risk communities.
With funding from MTN Uganda, URCS has, for the last two months been supporting the high risk areas, specifically the busy markets in Kampala and Wakiso to carry out risk communication and screening and hygiene promotion for people who access the markets in a bid to prevent the spread of the lethal coronavirus. However following the positive behavioral change from the market communities, the market risk communication and screening projects were recently handed over to the local market authorities.
Speaking at one of the recent markets’ risk communication and screening handover in Gayaza, MTN Uganda’s Regional Commercial Lead, Patrick Tumusime said that: “I am very pleased to note that since these risk communication and screening activities were introduced, the communities have adapted to them and have been adhering to them as recommended. We therefore feel confident to hand over the systems to the local authorities to carry on with the good work that Red Cross has been doing as a way of preventing the spread of the novel coronavirus.
The 16 beneficiary high traffic markets were selected by URCS in co-ordination with MoH (Ministry of Health) and KCCA (Kampala Capital City Authority) These included; St Balikuddembe market (Owino), Nakasero, Nateete, Busega, Ntinda New Market, Nansana daily market and Kyaliwajjala market among others. A total of 13 priority markets in Kampala and 3 in Wakiso were selected based on their capacity in terms of the number of people they host on a daily basis.
In addition to supporting the markets, MTN Uganda ran a highly publicized sms campaign dubbed: ‘Support Red Cross activities.’ Which saw the public respond with generous donations amounting to Ugx 21.9 million. This money was handed over to Redcrioss to further support its endeavors against the spread of Covid19.
In the Red Cross Covid19 response report, Josephine Okwera, the URCS director for health and social services said that: “We have trained more health teams to work through this pandemic. Our auxiliary role to Government during this pandemic has been proved stronger by playing making a complementary contribution to what Government is able to do with the little resources available”.
MTN’s Patrick thanked URCS for the tremendous work of sensitizing, screening and promoting hygiene in the markets. He urged the authorities that are taking over the risk communication, screening and hygiene promotion activities to carry on the good work started by URCS and to strongly keep enforcing the standard operation procedures in order to prevent the spread of the virus.
He also encouraged both the sellers and buyers of food to remain vigilant by observing the ministry of health guidelines of social distancing, face mask wearing, hand washing and sanitizing in order to prevent the deadly virus.