A survey conducted across some elite members of Uganda’s society indicates that difficulty in accessing health services remains the biggest challenge facing urban dwellers during the ongoing COVID-19 quarantine period.
The survey, conducted by SEMA Uganda,a local Civil organisation through interviewing people on various social media platforms like Facebook, reveals that up to 55 percent of respondents in Kampala expressed the desire for government to provide them with access to healthcare.
SEMA Uganda leaders say they conducted the online survey to find out the needs of the citizens and their proposals to address them.
According to the survey, some 55% of people living within Kampala metropolitan found access to healthcare as the most more important compared to other services during the on-going lock-down.
“The need for utilities (power and water) was mentioned as the second most important service by 38% of the respondents, and security came third at 5%.
“Women find access to health services during covid19 more important than men, while men seem to find utilities more important than women,”the report indicated.
The survey also indicated that people demanded that government provides food, essential household items and take care of rent during the current lock-down.
“Transport should be made available for people who must go for routine medical visits, people with chronic illnesses, or it should be made a little easier for the responsible persons or caretakers to drive the patients to respective hospitals,” the survey indicates.
The survey also showed that 44% of citizens who had interacted with the police in the last two weeks, a quarter of them reported a bad experience with the force where some Ugandans raised concerns of police brutality.
In an interview with The Sunrise, the Chief Executive Officer of SEMA Uganda, Nathalie Josephine, said the survey was conducted through Google Forms and spread through SEMA’s networks via newsletters,social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, WhatsApp among others.
“The main reason for the survey was that we are dealing with the lock-down in Uganda and it is affecting people’s accessibility to public services. So we wanted to find out their needs and gather the feedback so that we present it to the government, “she said.
Nathalie said several citizens requested government to also support mental and psychological counseling, as many people are dealing with fear and social-economical consequences of the lock-down.
“We are in a situation and there is a lot of needs that the public would want the government to address and also to see the areas of improvement in this particular case,”she added.
She said 11% of the citizens ask the government to provide free or reduced utilities during the lock-down, as most people have lost their daily incomes and are forced to stay at home and wash their hands.
She however observed that citizens in rural areas are more bothered by the need to for free food supplies and utilities than those living in Kampala.
Based on the survey, SEMA Uganda has advised the government to consider the following recommendations,
1.Lower the cost of living for people by reducing costs of utilities (water, electricity) and taxes.
2.Provide better transport and access means for those in need of health services who cannot move due to the lockdown, such as availing ambulances to those who can’t afford them.
3.Make online and mobile access to critical services better and easier.
4.Act faster in response to calls and online requests from citizens, and ensure a better response time on toll-free lines, as this is the main means for Ugandans to access services.
5.Urge public servants not to take bribes for providing public services and appropriate public funds in a transparent and accountable way.
6.Make sure directives and information about public services are correct and reach all people, including those in rural areas and speaking other languages.