Dr John Barugahare, the Principal Investigator on the study told URN in an interview on Thursday that the government did not consider any ethics when imposing early lockdown restrictions and to date, no deliberations on ethics have taken place.
In countering the transmission of COVID-19, the government
focused more on protecting people but lost sight of ethics and people’s rights, a new study by social scientists at Makerere University said, and recommended that this can’t continue into future epidemics.
Dr John Barugahare, the Principal Investigator on the study told URN in an interview on Thursday
that the government did not consider any ethics when imposing early lockdown
restrictions and to date, no deliberations on ethics have taken place.
The study conducted between September and December involved 113 participants including health workers, civil servants and
members of the public picked from Kampala and Mukono districts. It sought to establish how public health responses to COVID-19 can be strengthened
through the integration of human rights and ethics. It
Dr Barugahare says that respondents felt that the government imported measures that were not sensitive to their needs
and didn’t take into account the social, economic and other special contextual
factors of the population. He says, for example, that when the lockdown on transport was
imposed, people living with HIV had to be forced to reveal their status to a
third-party who is not a health worker.
//Cue in; “The controversy came…
Cue out…A lot of stigma.”//
Barugahare who is also a lecturer in the Department of Philosophy
says that while the restrictive measures imposed delayed transmission of the disease,
the complacency that followed and the rise in infection rates currently speak
to the fact that the manner in which the measures were implemented isn’t
He adds that the public should have been involved in deciding
which measures work best if only the country followed the 2017 World Health Organization
recommendation for countries to adopt local frameworks that should be used in
decision making when pandemics strike.
//Cue in; “Countries were encouraged…
Cue out… of firefighting again.”//
Going forward, he says, in the recently launched community
engagement strategy government needs to set up decision-making frameworks in
advance that should be able to come into play in case of emergencies without
having to take the public by surprise.
//Cue in; “The major recommendation….
Cue out…address all those.”//
Speaking at the release of the report, Prof. Julius Kikoma,
the Deputy Dean of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences said that the findings
show a gap that the Ministry of Health should fill as the pandemic
continues. He says the government never
thought that the pandemic would drag on for such things as politics to be