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Adherence to Covid-19 SOPs Improves at Mutukula Border

Several shops, operators of food-eating joints, money changers at both sides of the border are now operating with water points placed at their entrances; to enable people to wash their hands before entering.
Hand Washing facilities at the entrace of Tanzania One-Stop Border Post of Mutukula, where COVID-19 SOPs were not an issue of concern in the past

Audio 2

  Adherence to the Standard Operating Procedures-SOPs against Coronavirus Disease- Covid-19 has improved among populations at the Uganda-Tanzania border point of Mutukula in Kyotera district.  

The Ministry of Health on recommendations of the World Health Organization-WHO issued a list of approved SOPs that were found to be effective in the prevention of the spread of Covid-19.

Among the SOPs include wearing face masks, maintaining social-distancing, frequent hand washing or use of hand sanitizers.

According to reports by the Ministry of Health and Makerere University-based researchers at the school of public health, the non-compliance was mainly due to the poor control methods from neighbouring Tanzania where the realities about covid-19 and its associated effects were underestimated. 

However, URN reporter in the area says that communities living at the border point are voluntarily observing hand washing as a way of preventing covid-19.  

Several shops, operators of food-eating joints, money changers at both sides of the border are now operating with water points placed at their entrances; to enable people to wash their hands before entering.

Elisha Ssebaggala, a Money Changer, says their level of adherence increased after they received reports of Covid-19 related deaths from communities within neighbouring Tanzania, something that scared them off to start putting in place some safeguards.

He says although not yet institutional, some shops and other business operators across the border in Tanzania also recently started observing some SOPs, something that raised public vigilance about the Coronavirus.

//Cue in: (Luganda) “eh anti munange…..  

Cue out: …..ekirwadde ekyo okubakosa.”//

Mikidad Mukhtar, a pupil at Mutukula Primary School, located within Tanzania which also serves learners from both countries says that they have recently started practising handwashing before attending classes.

Although the school admiration is still reluctant to complying with other SOPs that include maintaining social distancing and use of face masks, they are aware of the realities of the virus. 

 //Cue in: “batugambye nti….   

  Cue out; …..ezo bazigiba.”//   

Yafeesi Nninzi, a Boda Boda cyclist across the Mutukula border says the social behaviour slightly changed about two weeks after they received news about the death of their colleagues in Tanzania.

He indicates that although the communities have not fully embraced all the Ministry of Health Standard Operating Procedures, people are now scared of the virus more than before.

He wants the Ministry of Health to consider the Mutukula border community as among the priority groups for vaccination. 

Asked about their failure to wear face masks which were freely given out to them by the government, Nninzi argues that high levels of temperatures in the area make wearing face masks uncomfortable to them.

Similarly, beyond Uganda’s border at the Tanzanian One-Stop Border Point-OSBP, URN has also seen hand washing points at different points of entrance, where the SOPs were not observed before.