Disease pandemic management task forces need cultural anthropologists

Hands down, in comparison to the others, the Government of Uganda under the National Resistant Movement (NRM) administration, led by His Excellency President Yoweri Kagutta T. Museveni, initially did a commendable job of enforcing prevention of the spread of covid in Uganda.

The evidence to support this assertion is there. For example, the following statistics reportedly published my Ministry of Health, that Mr. Onyait Odeke shared on his Facebook wall:

  • 81 percent so far of all that got COVID recovered.
  • Only 0.69 percent so far of all that tested positive have died.
  • Of all cases tested, only 4.96 percent were positive.

However, the ‘medical doctors plus military command strategy’ has its limits. There is a need now for a skills-set of social scientists, the likes of cultural anthropologists, to defeat the pandemic.  That skill-set that will calm people down, while at the same time gets them to appreciate the severity of the pandemic.

Mr. Onyait Odeke is the Manager of Digital Services GTM at MTN Uganda, the Managing Partner at Mkula Pictures and Co-Founder of Dignited. Photo Credit @ Mr. Odeke

Otherwise, our current status quo, as aptly surmised by Mr. Odeke, will rage on:

“Fear and panic among the population is a tool that increases infection. For example, the mass exodus of citizens from Kampala to the village is single handedly responsible for the widespread infections over the next couple of weeks.

Foolishness and lack of wisdom of the general population is also responsible for more infections. For example, people who don’t wear masks at all or don’t wear them properly. People who don’t follow Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) are enemies of progress.

There are fools who aren’t affected by symptoms as much, but they can’t nail their asses home. They keep moving unnecessarily spreading infection. If we could identify them, they need to be temporarily restrained and charged for their negligence.”

We need to get to a point where without brute force people freely and easily implement SOPs and other directives for fighting covid. That point like when people voluntarily use condoms while having sex, in order to protect each other from sexually transmitted diseases.

To get to where we need to be, we need perspective and intervention from those who are able to appreciate that:

“A pandemic carries many stories, only some of which involve the virus. But recalling such things requires retaining critical imagination, a capacity to reflect while acting, and an ability to listen as well as hear.” Peter Redfield in “The Danger if a Single Threat”

Cultural anthropologists listen as well as hear.

Featured photo taken by Emmanuel George Owaraga: Ladies in the audience listening to my Talk, “Going back to our roots,” at TEDx Kira Town

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