Fighter jets versus health -do Uganda’s leaders really care about the people they lead?

Posted on May 30, 2011


by Drew Ddembe on Friday, April 8, 2011 at 10:59pm

You have left me out of this discussion!
I see that all of the usual suspects are claiming overtime trying to “combat lies”! And there are some new ones who have failed to add value to the debate.
Today I caught up with some recent health stories from Uganda. And tried to justify the recent purchase of jet fighters by the government in light of our decrepit health services.
I came to the conclusion that this country is led by callous people who do not care at all about the well being of ugandans!
25 years ago, a younger Museveni castigated leaders who flew to New York for the UN General Assembly in jet planes and large retinues when their people were barefoot and dying of jiggers at home! Another person asked how African leaders of jigger infested people hoped to negotiate as equals with well fed well paid people! Surely the ground cannot be level!
I see a lot of nvuunza ridden negotiators in this deal! As Christine says, we bought a bunch of fighter jets we cannot afford with money we do not have in order to impress people who do not give a damn!
The capabilities of the Sukhoi SU 30 Mk2 does make one really wonder whether the people we trust with our security, really are qualified to plan for it. This is a highly capable aircraft but the specs suggest that unless we are planning to attack South Africa or Egypt both of which are out of our reach anyway, we have bought a hummer when we really need a Bajaj scooter!
A few things keep getting repeated in this debate. One of those is that jet fighters were responsible for ‘triumphing’ against kony. Am yet to see any argument that demonstrates that fighter jets are the ones that changed the balance of power. I personally believe that helicopter gunships and transport planes /helicopters would have been more useful and decisive than fighter jets without the necessary ground support and HUMINT for accurate targeting. As it is the prey got away and had 96 hours on the ground support troops!
The way i see it, our air capabilities would be served very well by transport planes and helicopter gunships as our main interests are internal and regional. Long range fighter aircraft with maritime capabilities actually designed for a different kind of warfare are way too expensive and innappropriate.
I have had a look at our upstream potential enemies such as Sudan and Egypt both of whom eclipse our air capabilities. Quite frankly it would be stupid to even attempt to squander our resources on an arms race with Egypt which has the largest airforce in the Arab world and the 4th largest force of F-15 numbering well over 200 in the world. With a fighting force of over 30,000 men in the aiforce and an inventory of over 1000 planes, its kind of like a mosquito trying to bring a grown man down let alone thinking about it! Yet drunkards like Jimmex, try to shut people trying to make sense of this by claiming they know about security!
While Sudan cannot match Egypt in anyway, it too has a much larger airforce with over 200 planes in service. Kenya too has a much larger airforce. 15 of their 20 something F-5’s were bought second hand from Jordan for 23 million -less than the cost of one su30 Mk2!
Tanzania which took 7 of our MIGS after trashing Amin who had a superior airforce at the time, is now dependent on much cheaper chinese aircraft with lower capabilities.
Rwanda, Burundi, Congo -nothing really to write home about. Our best regional defence is diplomacy not fighter jets.
The reality is that Egypt and SA would wipe Uganda’s airforce off the ground even before they got off the ground. Air defence capabilities have got to be combined with other defences -its not just having fighter jets. Ground radar, anti aircraft, SAMs etc.
I applauded the purchase of helicopter gunships due to their ability to change the balance of power between two matched landborne forces or small mobile guerilla units. That of course was before we learnt that we were ripped off and sold junk!
The only campaign that Uganda’s jet fighters were deployed in was the attack on Garamba commanded by none other than the first son! In that attack, an air attack was comined with a major ground assault designed to fix the LRA problem once and for all! The whole attack was bungled as apparently Kony had advance warning! How could a rag tag rebel who is probably loopy be able to tap into a state actors communications and have advance intelligence of their plans. Are our military intelligence people so incompetent as to be infiltrated by kony?
Even more appaling was the fact that the ground support troops arrived almost 96 hours after the bombing campaign -“due to the terrain”! Didnt they plan for the terrain?How could this happen? This of course demonstrates that fighter jets when used innapropriately may not change the outcome of the war.
Our country is poor. Whenever people complain here of government wastage and failure to provide services, various government lackeys and eaters come in to remind us how poor our country is!
But then you wake up to the news that we are competing with the big boys for the same toys and wonder where our priorities are!
Today I read several articles both here on FB and in the press about various health related issues in Uganda.
First, a man in Kibaale hospital who should not have died died because the hospital he went to did not have the supplies for his operation but his family too did not have a paltry 70 dollars to buy supplies! This man was killed by this government -negligence and failure in their duty of care.
Just last week, there was news of over a 1000 TB patients, 1.5 % of whome are multidrug resistant in Jinja. TB, an ancient disease, largely eradicated in the rest of the world continues to kill our people! 
Uganda has a total of 127,800 TB cases about 40,800 cases of whom are highly infectious and 27,900 of whom are expected to die every year with 60% co-infected with HIV.
16 women dying per day is 5696 women a year and someone wants us to talk about birds? Uganda has got one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the world!
15% of Ugandans life years are lost to premature death due to malaria —Families spend 25% of their income on treating the disease.
45,000 stillbirths, 45,000 newborn deaths in Uganda each year and an even larger number of childhood deaths 
That we have the fifth highest mortality rate in Africa and rank number 21 of 189 countries in the world -from the bottom!
That jiggers and scabies have reached epidemic proprotions -who ever heard of jiggers in epidemic proportions in this day and age? I dont even remember ever having had a jigger so what is going on in Uganda?
That 13 % or one in seven children born in Uganda will die before their fifth birthday! No wonder Ugandans feel the imperative to reproduce like rabbits! its the only insurance that at least some children will survive beyond their childhood!
Breast cancer a disease with 91 % long term survival rate has 200% the mortality rate in Uganda and a survival rate of less than 50%
That despite agreeing to a target of 15 % of GDP for health expenditure, uganda is one of those African countries that has failed to reach the target.
That previously eradicated diseases such as polio have recently re emerged suggesting a breakdown of public health education and vaccination programmes!
That we are losing the war on HIV because according to Musa Bungudu, the coordinator of the UN programme on HIV/AIDS, Government agencies and local charity organisations concentrating on holding workshops instead of doing “real work” that could deter new infections. 
A survey conducted by New Vision discovered that the only bed in the hospital’s theatre is torn and cannot be tilted or moved. The operating theatre also has only one light instead of over six lights required. This is the same hospital that a man just died in unnecessarily!
I will not go into all of the other annoying things like the billions used to bribe voters, MP’s and LC’s in the last elections nor the stupid new ministries now being created for each village that wants one in a parody of the phenomenon that saw each village being given its own district!
Now that the threat to despotic regimes is not necessarily internal as any state can chose to bomb them if they are “intransigent” to borrow from Sarkozy, we have to pay for fighter jets just to boost peoples egos!
When is Uganda going to get leaders who really care about Ugandans?

Posted in: Health, Uganda