Health experts urge clan leaders to discard some negative beliefs and practices from their culture

(Last Updated On: 13 December 2022)

More than 50 participants including cultural women, youth leaders and some traditional healers, and health experts were invited.

Jinja – December 11, 2022: Culture is dynamic, so cultural leaders should accept to modify some of their beliefs and practices to cope with numerous emerging and re-emerging issues like COVID-19 and Ebola pandemics, experts have advised.

Practices surrounding care to patients and funerals of relatives are now on the spot as very sensitive matters since the emergence of Coronavirus (Covid-19) in Uganda in 2020 and then the re-emergence of Ebola, being described as a behaviour-driven crisis.

This was a passionate call by health experts during a stakeholder’s sensitization meeting for clan leaders hailing from Butembe, one of the 11 chiefdoms in Busoga held at Bugembe, the Busoga kingdom headquarters.

Jinja District Health Educator, Tonny Mutiba was one of the speakers who facilitated the function sponsored by USAID, WHO and WFP, among others. More than 50 participants including cultural women, youth leaders and some traditional healers were invited.

Mutiba noted that while some cultural leaders find difficulties in embracing some new practices like isolation of suspected Ebola patients, and burial done by a team of trained health workers and others, it’s the only way to go.


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Most of the participants had expressed concern about why health experts do not allow family members to participate in the burial of their relatives who have died of Ebola or Covid-19.

With apparent reference to the concept of the so-called Living Dead widely held aspect of the African Traditional Religion where the dead have mystic power, the participants expressed fear that the new practices were a threat to the cultural norms and values of the people of Busoga.

But the experts warned against the practice saying a corpse of an Ebola victim is more deadly saying any attempt by family members to wash or exhume in the mistaken zeal of offering a decent cultural sendoff is a sure way of mass destruction.

The training was organized by the Social Behavioral Change Activity (SBCA), an innovative integrated social change project in Uganda funded by USAID in conjunction with partners like the World Health Organization, the World Food Programme and the Ministry of Health, among others.

Speaking during the same function, Ruth Musekure the Deputy Chief of the Party at USAID SBCA said the seminar aimed to equip the clan leaders who have followers with knowledge and information on the dangers of hemorrhagic fever.

Musekure told the participants that although her team visited the epicentre: Mubende and Kasanda districts, they also singled out Jinja where cases of the virus were reported to avert its spread to the entire Busoga region.

Juma Kigongo the Deputy RDC Jinja commended the organizers of the training saying Ebola, like other diseases; has social and cultural dimensions meaning every stakeholder must be involved.

Kigongo who spoke to journalists on the sidelines stressed the need for timely and accurate information dissemination to members of the public so that Ebola spread is contained.

There were concerns about the need to train broadcasters, especially of local radio stations whose presenters have inadequate information which they recklessly discuss, sometimes causing panic and confusion among their audience.

The following numbers were given out for members of the public to call in case of any suspected Ebola case for rapid response: 0800300046 (toll-free), 0707808384, 0707808367, 0706417816 and 0707808346.

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