Yellow, the vaccine you have called…

Dr. Paul Kaggwa, the Assistant Commissioner of health at the Ministry of Health cut a very nervous picture; wringing his hands from time to time- only stopping to pull a wet handkerchief from his tailored trouser to wipe rivulets of sweat pouring from every crevice on his skin and pacing back and forth. You see, the good doctor was anxiously waiting for a telephone call from mars to no avail. Didn’t Pakalast cover the entire galaxy? And so he fumed and puffed and perspired on…

According to the New Vision Tuesday 4 Jan 2011, the Ministry of health has postponed the mass vaccination exercise against yellow fever that was slated to kick off the same day due to scarcity of the vaccine. Dr. Paul Kagwa said this was because the ministry had not yet gotten feedback regarding the availability of the vaccine. According to the article, the vaccine is being procured from WHO and United States Center for Disease Control (CDC) (at shs 8 billion) all bodies which I am quite certain have their head quarters here on earth and could be reached for feedback never mind that by the time the ministry communicated dates for this mass exercise we expect them to have carried out their homework about simple logistical issues like shipping and such.

What is baffling about a situation like this is an incident plastered in today’s press report in one of the dailies detailing the unmasked shamelessness and haste with which MPs donned their Santa hats a trifle late and ‘forced through the approval of more than 600 billion in emergency spending’ (Daily Monitor Jan 5 2011 pg 1) 95 billion of that being a late Christmas gift to State House. Quite possibly the same chaps that voted to scrap the presidential term limits and got compensated handsomely according to unconfirmed (who are we kidding) media reports.

They have a mandatory I-do-not-know-how-many plenary sittings a year that they use as opportunities to catch up on lost sleep (since they probably spent the previous night counting the millions they have accumulated from bribes) while bill after bill is tabled and eventually trashed and yet a ‘special’ sitting of parliament is held and all of a sudden they are eager to cast votes. This while their people languish in poverty, rot from a jigger epidemic, are washed away by floods and die from preventable and treatable diseases.

It has been two months since the Yellow Fever outbreak in which 45 people have already died and two million at risk of catching it and we are still just waiting for confirmation about the availability of the vaccine yet no ‘special sitting of Parliament’ has been summoned and dizzying amounts allocated in a ‘spare no costs’ type show of generosity they are easily according their boss. And so you have to wonder what these MPs’ motives really are evidenced by the snail pace they pick up when it is time to address issues facing real people with real problems and real needs other than an obsessive need to please egotistical self serving childish desires to cling to and abuse power.

All hope is not lost in the fight against the disease as ‘experts have been deployed to areas bordering regions that have been hit by the disease prevent further spread of the disease.’ And so do not be alarmed when you find human experts from the Ministry of Health tussling it out with a yellowish looking virus creature thingy to try and prevent it from heading on to the next district. I am sure this measure will provide a lot of comfort to the families of those that have lost loved ones, have patients battling the disease all the while wondering whether it is their turn next and will somebody please hurry up with the damn vaccine already?

‘mpenkoni, mpenkoni…’ chimes the ringtone on Dr. Kaggwa’s iPhone4. He anxiously tries to pull it out of the other pocket that thankfully does not bear the now uselessly soppy handkerchief but it is stuck in the maze of keys to his Mercedes, his Ntinda flat, Kololo Mansion, Range Rover, Lexus and the intricately designed key to his safe. He finally disentangles the phone.

Hello? Is this the call I have been waiting for from the space shuttle? Are the yellow fever vaccines ready? Should I just call the whole thing off permanently? He bellows.

No. This is Cathy. I think your wife might have found out about that trip we took last month to Dubai. Remember? The one where you were supposed to be on State Duty attending a conference on Aids in China? Yea. She’s obviously upset about it and is still screaming on the second blackberry you bought me…
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