23.03.2020 Opinion

Besigye's Coronavirus Message Should Be Dominating Our Media!

By Abbey Kibirige  Semuwemba
Besigye's Coronavirus Message Should Be Dominating Our Media!
LISTEN MAR 23, 2020

I’m happy with President’s Museveni’s press briefings but I think we are missing an opportunity here—Besigye’s message on this disease was so powerful and should be all over our media. It should be interpreted in various languages too. Besigye should be standing shoulder to shoulder with Museveni in press briefings and guide the public on what to do. Politics should be put aside, for now. Please, don’t fight me or anybody on this, inform. The enemy is the Corona Virus.

Besigye’s message was just awesome, and I’m not just saying that to score points here. He basically gave the best presentation in Uganda, regarding the Corona Virus. I liked the part where he talked about stress. Please understand that stress is an immune suppressant, and right now, our immune system is what will keep most of us alive during this thing. For many, it's all we have, considering the ‘volongoto’(poor) healthy system in our country. People should also drink plenty of water, eat plenty of healthy food, vitamin C (as Besigye explained), and breathe, breathe, breathe. Reducing contact with people is essential, hard as that is, for everyone for a while. And I am more concerned with the countless number of people with HIV/AIDS and TB patients. They have literally zero immunity against this, nothing to fight it off with.

Our best shot to fight this, especially in Africa, is our body immunity. Viruses, as a whole, are a bitch. There are no cures for viruses, hence things like the flu and HIV being the problem that they are. We can only treat the symptoms. Antiretrovirals slow down the HIV, keeps the viral load low, but it doesn't cure it or eradicate it. Antibiotics don't work for the flu or viruses, only for bacteria. So, the only way to eradicate a viral disease, is vaccination. Smallpox for instance has been successfully eradicated. Problem is, vaccines take time to develop, sometimes years. It seems we may be lucky and have one for COVID19 next year. Netflix has a series called Explained, the Pandemic episode is brilliant.

Have different people conveying messages about the disease-it helps. Where I am in the UK, the virus has been around longer, in which case people may be more aware of how serious this is. In Uganda, on the other hand, plenty of people are still going to work, spending time with friends in restaurants, coffee shops, etc, despite the presidential directive. We're only just waking up to it. We haven't been testing until recently, and only one person has so far tested positive. Our economy is in tatters and our hospitals have been run into the ground. We are hopelessly under prepared. It makes me angry.

This is a very transmissible contagion and much of it is alarming, but there are also reasons to stay calm. I'm hoping continued data updates on the world meter reveals a lot more insight, like that the virus will be negatively impacted by heat/summer. The analysis of data from some researchers in Beijing suggests that high humidity and high heat reduce the spread. So, Uganda and other African countries may miraculously survive this. Anyway, even if there is some sort of seasonality to it, that only delays the problem until the next winter. It doesn't wipe out the disease. E.g. the real impact of the Spanish flu was the following winter.

Yes, the Corona virus might destroy all of life, and guess what? It might not, as well. You can only control what you can control, but we shouldn’t make decisions based on fear.

Abbey Kibirige Semuwemba
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"Men in authority will always think that criticism of their policies is dangerous. They will always equate their policies with patriotism, and find criticism subversive." - Henry Steele Commager 1902-98

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