President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda declared a fourteen-day lockdown starting Monday, March 30, as the total number of known COVID-19 cases in the East African country reached thirteen. Similar to lockdown measures being enacted by other countries around the world, Museveni’s version has irked many Ugandans with its ban on public transport. Reporting by Uganda’s Daily Monitor reveals how people living with HIV/AIDS are particularly worried and made vulnerable by the public transit ban.
William Matovu told Daily Monitor that a majority of people living with HIV use public transport to pick up medicine and to access healthcare facilities. The ban effectively leaves them stranded, making adherence to vital drug regimens more difficult. Stigma surrounding HIV/AIDS makes delivery of medications troublesome as well, since most people prefer not to disclose their status. The head of the HIV/AIDS program at the Ministry of Health, Dr. Joshua Musinguzi, said new guidelines would be issued some time this week to address these concerns.
Why It Matters
Restricting public transportation makes sense as far as slowing the spread of the virus. Considering most public transport involves people being in close proximity in large numbers, it’s one of the quickest ways for a pandemic to spread, and spread far. Conversely, the need to be able to go out and buy essentials such as food and medicine makes public transport a vital lifeline for urban residents. For rural Ugandans, infrastructure inequities force them to use private transportation services, which are harder to monitor to ensure safe practices. Government policies to control the spread of COVID-19 must take into account how best to meet the needs of a country’s most vulnerable citizens.