Message from the National Youth Coordinator of Uganda Episcopal conference – Zako Joyce

Mrs Zako Joyce (R) with Bishop Elect of Nebbi Catholic Diocese Msgr Raphael Pmony Wokorach

“Everyone is at a risk!”

Dear young people and friends of Jesus, Christus Vivit!

We all know that this second wave of the corona virus has continued to ravage our beloved Motherland Uganda the Land of the Martyrs and the whole world, threatening our traditional social networks and safety nets. The impact of this virus is enormous with considerable challenges in the fields of education, employment, mental health and disposable income among the youth and other cohorts due to the lockdown and other subsequent uncertainties caused by the pandemic.

In the report by the Ministry of Health on 2nd July 2021, the surveillance carried out by the Uganda Virus Research Institute indicates that there are several variants in Uganda. The analysis made by the same institute from the samples collected from Kampala and Wakiso between 3rd and 15th June shows that the predominant variant is the Delta Variant which has been killing people massively in India.

As we continue to use the different avenues to communicate to you about the second wave of COVID-19 pandemic in Uganda, we call upon all the youth to take personal responsibility to fight this deadly and mysterious virus. According to Professor Madhu Pai, Canada Research Chair of Epidemiology and Global Health; With the new variants and dismal Covid Vaccine coverage, every country is at risk! We urge you to adhere to the Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) put in place by the Government of Uganda through Ministry of Health and the advice by the Catholic Bishops of Uganda on how you should protect, prevent and keep safe from contracting the corona virus.

The same report from the Ministry of Health too reminds us that it is very dangerous to administer oxygen to COVID-19 patients from home and other ungazetted places. Unprofessional use of oxygen in treating COVID-19 patient is risky for the following reasons:

i. A COVID-19 patient who requires oxygen has severe or critical illness. Such cases should be managed in hospitals and the oxygen levels should be regulated by a professional health worker.

ii. Unregulated oxygen may be administered in high doses which is toxic to the vital body organs such as the brain.

iii. Family members may not know whether the oxygen being used is Medical grade oxygen or Industrial grade oxygen.

iv. Not every COVID-19 patient requires oxygen therapy.

v. Oxygen is highly inflammable. Its improper use and management can cause dangerous fires to the household and the entire community, leading to loss of lives.

The management of COVID-19 is mainly symptomatic and supportive. The Ministry further advises that drugs admitted to the patient are intended to alleviate the symptoms and support the body to combat the disease.

It is important to note that the best place to manage a sick person with corona virus is in the hospital. Unfortunately, many of our hospitals are now overwhelmed and have limited spaces/beds. In case you have been advised by the medical personnel in a hospital or reputable health center in your area to observe and keep your patient at home, carefully observe the SOPs.

I am sure very many young people are feeling lost and confused about the messages from the different sources, especially on the social platforms! The message from the Government/Ministry of Health is always clear that prevention is better than cure, get vaccinated, isolate yourself if you have tested positive and if you have symptoms, ensure that you get linked to care in a timely manner! I therefore urge you to follow the preventive measures promoted by the Ministry of Health in order to protect yourself and your loved ones.

Be aware that the future economic and social consequences of this pandemic will heavily rely on you the youth; although the different age cohorts have disproportionately been affected due to the existing inequalities within our communities. As young people, it is therefore your role to contain the spread of this highly contagious virus.

The following may be vital:

1. Supporting each other through prayer and assist where necessary. United in prayer, we will overcome!

2. Take a personal commitment, approach or discipline in dealing with this virus in order to protect and safe guide yourself and others from being infected.

3. Never get tired of following the Standard Operating Procedures (SOP); wearing your mask correctly, hand washing, keeping distance, no shaking of hands, avoid going out in the general public, avoid touching your face (eyes, nose and mouth) because your contaminated hands may transfer the virus to your body through these openings. In addition, avoid visiting friends.

4. The young people are now champions in the digital world. Use the digital tools and platforms created by your peers to share messages of hope and encouragement; to carryout virtual meetings and conferences. The digital tools too can be used to build resilience in the society and to avert future disasters.

5. Always test for corona virus if you feel unwell or have similar symptoms of corona virus to be sure of what you are treating by visiting your health worker.

6. If possible avoid handling cash when carrying out transactions. Try to use alternative payment methods such as mobile money or debit/credit cards where applicable. Sanitize or wash your hands thoroughly with soap and running water after handling cash.

In His Apostolic Exhortation Christus Vivit (Christ is Alive!), the Holy Father, Pope Francis continues to urge all young people of the world to embrace their roles as the “present and the future” of the Catholic Church the now of God” (CV Chapter 3) by building relationships with their community and with God. Be the Salt and light” to others (Cf. Matthew 5:13-16) and develop meaningful relationships among your peers and the communities by showing them the unconditional love of Christ through good deeds in this difficult time.

Please Stay Safe, Stay at Home!

Zako Joyce

National Youth Coordinator

Uganda Episcopal Conference

July 2021