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Africa is burning, says Richard Pulice, a professor of public health at Regis College.

The entire continent is in the midst of a third COVID-19 surge, according to the World Health Organization. From July 4 to July 11 there were 6,273 deaths due to COVID-19 in Africa, almost eclipsing the peak from January of 6,294.

“We are not sensationalizing what is happening there,” he added. “This is all real. The pandemic is not over.”

Five Ugandan women pose for a photo after collecting bags of flour

One country being hit particularly hard by COVID is Uganda, where Pulice has done extensive mental health work and research for 10 years. While he praised the country for its initial response to the pandemic, the elimination of key public safety protocols and limited access to vaccines resulted in 897 recorded deaths the week of July 4.

The country is now in the midst of a 42-day lockdown. Pulice explained that Ugandans keep very close ties to the villages they grew up in. When the first lockdown ended, everyone headed to their village to see family and friends and the virus spread from there.

“I’ve lost several friends,” Pulice said. “The country has let its guard down and waited too long to start another lockdown.”

Around the world the pandemic has exacerbated other social, health, and economic disparities and in the case of Uganda, Pulice noted there is a significant hunger problem. So, in January he and his wife Maureen incorporated HeartSounds US to help raise funds for Ugandan-based organizations to buy and distribute food, as well as support Ugandan women and girls who are particularly vulnerable.

They are also paying to fuel up ambulances that transport those in need, especially pregnant women, to a local mission hospital and clinic.

“This is an opportunity for Regis to engage,” Pulice said.

Heart Sounds US’ mission is to help develop NGOs (non-governmental organizations) around the world. It already has working relationships with the Uganda-based Peer Nation, which works to close the mental health services gap in the country, and Home for Divine Mercy. For more information about HeartSounds US or to make a donation, please email donate@heartsoundus.org or visit their site.