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Uganda: United Nations Emergency Appeal for Response to COVID-19 and its Impacts (April - September 2020)

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Government of Uganda’s Response & Complementarity of the Emergency Appeal

Uganda registered its first case of COVID-19 on 21 March 2020 and, as of 13 April, had registered 53 cases.

The Government of Uganda has responded rapidly, implementing a series of measures and developing national guidelines to prevent and respond to the spread of COVID-19. Coordination has been instituted with the appointment of an Incident Commander, Incident Management Teams and subcommittees. Government and partners have been implementing public health preparedness and response activities along eight core pillars: coordination and leadership; surveillance, laboratory support and points of entry; risk communication, social mobilization and community engagement; case management, infection prevention and control; ICT and innovation; WASH; mental health and psychosocial support; and logistics.

The Ministry of Health of Uganda prepared a National COVID-19 Preparedness and Response Plan that has been updated to respond to the evolving pandemic, modelling data and new evidence aimed at reducing the importation, transmission, morbidity and mortality as well as economic social disruption that might result from the COVID-19 outbreak. The Government of Uganda and the Ministry of Health, supported by the UN among other partners, are leading a robust response to the COVID-19 outbreak.

There is also policy and strategic oversight for the response Government of Uganda implemented a series of vulnerability reduction and containment measures to curtail transmission of COVID 19. Some of the measures have included:

• Closure of schools and other high concentration points;

• Freeze of public and private transport;

• Outlawing all mass gathering events, including for worship; overnight curfew;

• Closure of international airport and ground crossing points for passengers; and

• A nationwide lockdown.

Technical response actions are being undertaken, focusing on all of the core interventions areas, including:

• Management of the suspected and confirmed cases in the two isolation facilities;

• Risk communication;

• Supply chain management and logistics support; and

• Psychosocial support.

Other immediate actions included:

• Quarantine – both institutional and self-quarantine for individuals perceived to be at a very high risk;

• Expansion of call centers capacity and activation of toll-free telephone lines for reporting suspected COVID-19 cases (0800-100-066 or 0800-203-033);

• Development of Risk Communication Strategy and dissemination of key messages on public health measures to general public;

• Engagement of key ministries, religious and cultural leaders to promote key messages; Adaptation of the messages to the evolving situation and response;

• Instituting regular media briefings and issuing media statements in an attempt to keep the public informed on the situation and share key messages on public health measures;

• Development of guidance on essential health service continuity;

• Effective mobilization of resources from all sectors of the Government to support the COVID-19 response; and

• Engagement of decentralized districts to mount a nationwide response.

District Task Forces and their subcommittees have been activated, and various guidelines, Standard Operating Procedures and public awareness messages have been developed and widely disseminated.
Mapping of facilities for managing COVID-19 cases -including severely ill requiring intensive care management- is ongoing alongside resource mobilization. The Ministry of Health and partners have pre-positioned available response supplies at designated locations. Uganda has in-country capacity to test for COVID-19 at the Uganda Virus Research Institute (UVRI), with an existing sample transfer network and established severe acute respiratory infection sentinel surveillance sites. Surveillance and screening at Points of Entries has been scaled up, including at Entebbe International Airport, Busia, Malaba, Elegu, and Cyanika, among others.

Beyond the immediate public health aspects of the COVID-19 pandemic, the disease will also have humanitarian and socio-economic consequences, as already seen in the global economic slow-down. The Government of Uganda is proactively taking a number of measures to minimize the multi-faceted impacts of this rapidly evolving situation.
In support of the Government’s response, this UN Emergency Appeal will respond to the most urgent needs in the coming period, prioritizing activities to be implemented within eight weeks and those to be implemented within six months. The appeal will provide a bridge to longer-term activities focused on recovery and resilience-buildings and leaving no one behind, to be implemented under the UN Sustainable Cooperation Framework (2021-2025), which is under development, in support of the Government’s new National Development Plan III and implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG).

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
To learn more about OCHA's activities, please visit https://www.unocha.org/.