KCCA Plans for Possible Floods During Pope’s Visit

Dear Presidential Candidate, hospital

Thank you for your willingness to stand for presidency. The calling to public service is a sacred vocation. I hold you for nomination and election in my prayers.

I am writing, to make a case for the inclusion of sickle cell into your program when you get to office after swearing in next May.

You and your other fellow presidential candidates have so far addressed issues concerning laptops, hoes, teachers’ salaries, corruption, federal governance but I have heard no one talking about sickle cells.

A quick insight, sickle cell disease is a genetic blood disorder which is inherited when both parents carry the sickle cell gene. People with this disease are susceptible to life-long infections and early mortality if left undiagnosed, recurrent debilitating pain, anemia and chronic organ damage including stroke, kidney and respiratory failure.

I would like to bring to your attention that sickle cell disease is and has been affecting millions of Uganda and other people worldwide.

About 33,000 babies are born with sickle cell disease every year in Uganda. That is about 17 percent of world population of children born with sickle cell disease and 70 – 80 percent do not celebrate their fifth birthdays.

These children who die also desire to have a country where they can live up to their adulthood even. A quick back in April this year the survey results revealed that 4 out of 150 children in Uganda below 2 years have sickle cell disease and 1 of 7 children carrying the sickle cell gene.

20 percent of Ugandans are carriers of sickle cell trait and if they marry another person with sickle cell trait or disease they can give back to children with sickle cell disease. 20 percent means 1 out of 5 Ugandans are carriers of sickle cell trait. 1 out of 5 people on your campaign team, 1 out of 5 ministers, 1 out of 5 people you address are sickle cell carriers.

Dear candidate as you promise hoes, and improving the wealth of Ugandans remember the children with sickle cell and their parents who cannot benefit from these programs. As you provide to increase the salaries of teachers and giving free laptops, there children who will not be able to attend classes of these well paid teachers due to pain episodes, stroke caused by this disease.

Sickle cell disease is one of the non- communicable diseases in Uganda that is receiving less attention. The victims have long been neglected to their own destiny to cater for themselves.

There is little or lack of sensitization of the masses of what sickle cell is. Dear presidential candidate, it is alarming as to the few people in Uganda that have no clue on what sickle cell disease is, yet most people have heard of cancer and HIV/AIDS. It is only those that are directly touched by the disease or those who are part of the medical community handling the disease know about it.

There is no National sickle cell Registry. This has made it difficult to accurately determine how many people are living with sickle cell disease and trait and where they are.

There is insufficient control and management programmes, the only programmes available have neither the national coverage nor basic facilities to manage the patients.

As you traverse the whole country rallying for votes, I argue you to prioritise sickle cell by intergrating sickle cell control programs in the national programs for prevention and control of this disease. Essential areas of work should cover advocacy, prevention, counseling, early detection and treatment, data collection, surveillance and research, community education and partnerships.

After your swearing in come May 2016 I wish you to start by establishing a Sickle Cell Institute in your first 100 days in office for carrying out research, treatment, distribution of medicine required for the treatment of the disease.

As you assign duties to your minister of health I urge you, give him/her the first responsibility of introducing a bill for prevention, control and management of sickle cell disease first.

Elections are about leadership. Leaders influence and shape the world around them. Your stand on sickle cell will determine how a sickle cell free generation can be achieved. The sickle cell community is watching.

Yours in sickle cell name

Ashiraf Ssebandeke

The writer is the Public Relations Officer, Sickle Cell Network Uganda and Country Representative African Sickle Cell News and World Report – Nigeria.
Kampala Capital City Authority Executive Director Jennifer Musisi Semakula has assured city dwellers of normalcy as Pope Francis visits the country this weekend, and noting that a large team from the authority has been set aside to curtail any disruption.

Musisi while addressing press at City Hall in Kampala called upon Ugandans to embrace this opportunity and welcome the Pope because this is an opportunity that Ugandans have to market Kampala and Uganda at large to the international scene.

She confirmed that by the Pope’s arrival on Friday evening, physician the ongoing lighting project will be complete as well as renovation of major roads and greening in most of the areas where the Pope is expected to pass.

“On 17th September 2015 we received a sum of Shs 15 billion to cater for the city beautification plan; from this amount we signed an agreement with Philips East Africa at 7 billion shillings to supply us with 750 solar street lights together with their accessories.”

Musisi added that although the actual solar lights which were procured are not yet in the country, visit Philips decided to provide an interim solution where it has provided enough LED lights on major streets of the city as they wait for the solar lights which are on the way.

“We have relocated all the street lights from the city center to various divisions of Kampala as one of the ways to decrease on the darkness on various roads in city divisions. We have so far used 1 billion shillings for relocating these lights with the largest share taken by workers who have been employed to work upon this project in the shortest period possible.”

“We have so far finalized the fixing of new lights on Nile Avenue, Kintu Road to Kitgum road Junction, and the road to Munyonyo. Next will be Bombo Road and Mukwano Road where nearly all lights with their poles were stolen,” Musisi added.

This being a rainy season, Musisi said the authority is aware of possible floods during the Pope’s visit and blamed the problem on city dwellers who throw garbage in water channels.

She however assured the public that a standby team has been put in place to contain such a situation if it arises.

“Some people seem to ask me to stop the rain during the Pope’s visit but I don’t have those powers. We have been working with building owners in various parts of the city that are always affected by floods to ensure that we control flooding,” she said.

“We have gone as far as pulling down some structures that were constructed over the water channels. It has not been so effective because some of the structures contributing to floods were cleared by KCC of those days and so we have nothing to do about them,” Musisi added.

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