Monday, May 29, 2017

I liked Woody Harrelson's 'Wilson'

I bought a copy of 'Wilson' from one of Kampala's movie DVD outlets. Then I checked movie reviews of the film. Normally, I check with 'Rottentomatoes' first if I am in doubt. Well the verdicts were clear. 'Wilson' was not supposed to be worth my time. Well, I liked 'Wilson'. Not its entirety (I loathed the part where the Woody Harrelson character desperately begged the father of his biological daughter the chance to be a part of her life)I actually reached for remote to pass up this pathetic scene. Clearly, 'Wilson' doesnt follow the traditional holly wood template of happy endings and political correctness. This time around, this was refreshing. 'Wilson' seemed to me like a European film in that sense. I found the writing smart. Lots of wit and really terrific lines. Not altogether in good taste but I found the film's frankness refreshing. And Woody Harrelson is one reason I was drawn to this film in the first place. Laura Dern was another.'Wilson' is biting social commentary on the superficiality of American human relations. I found its take on the emergent multiple themes; happiness, adulthood, relationships,aging, loss, parenthood...thoughtful. I agree that there were some implausible bits of the plot or the story in general. Yes, I too wondered what the Woody Harrelson character did for a living as they seemed untroubled with paying bills and some how muddled through without worry of paying rent and gas. Dont believe the negative reviews. Go see this film if you want a refreshingly 'un' hollywood film. One for grown ups. A film that doesn't take itself seriously and takes a light hearted dig on life.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Failure to launch: a hasty movie review of 'Life'

I usually trust the judgement of James Berardinelli of And so, when I saw he had given 3 stars to 'Life', I dragged myself to the cineplex in Kisementi in Kampala. Well, James I am going to let you off on this one. But only because you have consistently reliable in the past. Not on this one I am afraid. They say 'Passengers' was a critical bum but I found it a lot more appealing and watchable than 'life'. In terms of the plot, character development and the imagination of the setting. I was taken in by the all-star cast. But even that couldnt bring this movie to fly. The only bright spot was the character played by the British scientist who was a refreshing find for me. What I found annoying was the hapless actions of the film characters. Shooting themselves in the foot at every turn. It was exhausting. I could even afford a couple of shut-eye moments during the movie. There was no real solid lead in the movie. The plot and elimination of characters was hasty and not altogether intelligently done. This is a movie that promises so much but delivers so little.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

An alternative christian worship

I am visiting a small town in Michigan. I looked for a church to attend this sunday. The christian science church came calling. And I figured, its all about christ. Right? So, I took the courage to attend a totally new church in this snowy town in Michigan. It was different here. Refreshingly so. No loud pastor. No imposing choir. No sermon even. But it was worship alright. We recited more bible verses than I ever remember reciting in a single service in the catholic, protestant and Pentecostal churches I have attended. No church branding and events advertising. Very refreshing. And then beside scripture there were words of wisdom which they called 'christian science' and I thought these could only be inspired by the holy spirit. And I was spiritually fed. It is amazing how much we so trapped in our churches and forget that christ is everywhere and not only in that church you attend. He is everywhere from wherever you search for him. And this is the church he has chosen for me today and yes, He never makes mistakes.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Accounting for variations on ART program sustainability outcomes in health facilities in Uganda: A comparative case-study analysis

Abstract Background: Uganda implemented a national ART scale-up program at public and private health facilities between 2004 and 2009. Little is known about how and why some health facilities have sustained ART programs and why others have not sustained these interventions. The objective of the study was to identify facilitators and barriers to the long-term sustainability of ART programs at six health facilities in Uganda which received donor support to commence ART between 2004 and 2009. Methods: A case-study approach was adopted. Six health facilities were purposively selected for in-depth study from a national sample of 195 health facilities across Uganda which participated in an earlier study phase. The six health facilities were placed in three categories of sustainability; High Sustainers (2), Low Sustainers (2) and Non- Sustainers (2). Semi-structured interviews with ART Clinic managers (N = 18) were conducted. Questionnaire data were analyzed (N = 12). Document review augmented respondent data. Based on the data generated, across-case comparative analyses were performed. Data were collected between February and June 2015. Results: Several distinguishing features were found between High Sustainers, and Low and Non-Sustainers’ ART program characteristics. High Sustainers had larger ART programs with higher staffing and patient volumes, a broader ‘menu’ of ART services and more stable program leadership compared to the other cases. High Sustainers associated sustained ART programs with multiple funding streams, robust ART program evaluation systems and having internal and external program champions. Low and Non Sustainers reported similar barriers of shortage and attrition of ART-proficient staff, low capacity for ART program reporting, irregular and insufficient supply of ARV drugs and a lack of alignment between ART scale-up and their for-profit orientation in three of the cases. Conclusions: We found that ART program sustainability was embedded in a complex system involving dynamic interactions between internal (program champion, staffing strength, M &E systems, goal clarity) and external drivers (donors, ARVs supply chain, patient demand). ART program sustainability contexts were distinguished by the size of health facility and ownership-type. The study’s implications for health systems strengthening in resource-limited countries are discussed. Keywords: Sustainability, HIV treatment, Health systems, ART scale-up, Implementation, Case-study Authors: Henry Zakumumpa, Sara Bennett and Freddie Ssengooba FULL TEXT:

Friday, September 2, 2016

Idle reflections on Robert Bolt's A Man for all seasons

Last night I stayed up late watching 'A man for all seasons' on Turner Classic Movies. The movie is an adaptation of Robert Bolt's play of the same name which was a set text for my A'level literature class a decade ago. The play is about Thomas More, Lord Chancellor to King Henry, the eighth. He was put to death for being true to his conscience(even under the most trying and unjust persecution) and denying that Henry's second marriage was legitimate. His opposition to King Henry marrying a second wife was out of religious (catholic)conviction. As chief counselor to King Henry, it was expected that he would go along with all the 'kings's men' and rubber stamp the decision to allow Henry a second wife even when it contravened the legal, religious and moral norms of the time. It is utterly amazing how much more meaning and thematic relevance I can now derive from a text I read as a boy to pass my A'levels. Having seen a bit of the world and known how incredibly trying it is to remain true to one's conscience, I appreciate Thomas More's example even more. The price of a life of convenience is a dearly expensive. As a secondary school student one often asks why they are 'forced' to read certain set texts. But yesterday, the answer came through. Some literature texts are an education in character. Being steadfast in upholding your virtues amidst trials and tribulations. Being loyal to truth and justice even at the cost of one's own life. How many times to we fail this test?, in our daily lives, at work, at home, in politics? Thomas More was truly 'A man for all seasons'. He was true to his convictions and beliefs in all the seasons of his life,when he was a great man and when he was banished from office. He never,even once, flinched when he was unjustly imprisoned, tried under sham charges,isolated from his friends and family and even when he was sent to the gallows. He believed in his heart that Henry's second marriage was a nullity and no amount of persecution would bring him to see matters differently. He spoke truth to power.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

How Tobacco use deprived Ugandans of the' Father' of Arsenal's brand of football

Many Ugandans are ardent fans of Arsenal FC's style of football and Barcelona's attack-minded blend of Soccer.Many analysts agree this has a lot to do with one man. Johan Cruyff. Arsene Wenger, Frank Rijkaard and Pep Guardiola have variously acknowledged being influenced by Johan Cruyff's football philosophy. The Dutchman had an illustrious stint with the Dutch national football team famously captaining it to the 1974 World Cup final which they lost to West Germany. He later coached Barcelona to unprecedented success. The Dutchman even has a striker's dribbling manouever named after him. The Cruyff turn is a scenario where a striker makes a swift 180 degrees turn away from a defender. Dennis Bergkamp, Arsenal fans recall,executed this move in the twilight of his career there. Johan Cruyff would still be with us today to inspire more Arsenals and Barcelonas if it wasn't for one tragic habit-cigarette smoking. He passed away about two months ago from lung cancer. Tobacco use is responsible for 90% of all lung cancer deaths in men. Johan Cruyff repeatedly admitted that cigarette smoking had a lot to with the cancer that finally claimed his life and a heart bypass operation he underwent when he was still a football coach. '' Football gave me everything but tobacco almost took it all away'' said Johan Cruyff when it seemed that he would beat the lung cancer. Later in life, he emerged as unlikely poster boy for tobacco control causes. As we commemorate World No Tobacco Day today, it is an opportune moment to go beyond regurgitating the statistics of the victims of tobacco to reflect on the human face of the tobacco epidemic and the one billion lives tobacco use is set to claim this century unless action is taken. WHO has selected plain tobacco plain packaging as this year's World No Tobacco Day theme. Australia led the world in implementing a plain tobacco packaging rule. This simply means that if you buy a packet of cigarettes in Australia you will not find the manufacturer's colours and brand displayed on a cigarette packet as is the case in Uganda today. The United Kingdom implemented the plain tobacco packaging rule this month with France and Ireland set to follow suit this year. Clearly, tobacco packaging is a form of advertising and research has determined that glossy cigarette brand packaging makes smoking seem attractive and induces demand especially among impressionable young people. Last year, the Parliament of Uganda passed a Tobacco Control law which was assented to by President Museveni.The Tobacco Control Act(2015) provides for increasing the size of health warnings on tobacco packaging to provide for messages such as ''Smoking harms your health and those around you'' complete with graphic images illustrating tobacco-associated illnesses such as throat cancer. The Uganda Tobacco control law came into force on 19th May 2016 following a 6-months period since it was gazetted.At this year's World No Tobacco Day in Kampala, a ceremony has been organized to mark the coming into force of the new Tobacco control law. The Ministry of Health and CSO partners are in the process of passing regulations to give full effect to the Tobacco Control law to save the next generation of Ugandans. In Kenya, passage of the tobacco control law was greeted with law suits from the tobacco industry and in Uganda the industry is expected to follow a similar template. Johan Cruyff would not approve of such moves. His story is testimony to kind of lives the law seeks to protect in the first place.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Vergiss mein nicht: 'Forget me not' A German film review

An adult son takes a few days from work to visit his parents' home to relieve his caretaker father from the grueling task of looking after his 71 year old mother who has end-stage Alzheimer disease. From this simple plot flows an intimate family portrait of the effects of Alzheimer on a German family.On a more sophisticated level, Vergiss mein nicht, which is German for 'Forget me not' is a introspective tale of mortality and human transition and how we negotiate this journey in the intersection of a family setting. We see first hand how a elderly woman loses her memory to the point of being unable to tell the difference between her own husband of 30 years her adult son. The pain of being forgotten in an instant by a loved out of mental disability brought on from an advanced disease couldn't be more stark. The almost complete memory loss by the filmaker's mother, except for a few flickers of memory such as being able to recognise her father, tell an intimate story of the struggle of a family to come to terms with a mother who can longer identify the closest people in her life or even recall the use of the most basic domestic tools. A painful moment in the film shows the filmaker's mother being told how to use a fork to pick on a tomato in a food bowl. The films provides some rich background of the filmaker's mother when she was a very pretty, young, politically-active wife of a young German mathematics lecturer in Zurich, Switzerland flashbacks from the 1960s and 1970s and cuts to the image of an elderly woman suffering from dementia who is much more at ease in sleep than awake with the inevitable outcome all but clear. The story touches on the interesting subject of monogamy in married unions. We learn from the filmaker's narration that her mother and father agreed on an 'open' relationship where they allowed each other to see other people when they were a young idealistic couple. From the woman's long-kept diary we learn she wasnt as tolerant of this open union as she let on. The unfairness of fates comes into play when we learn that 71-year old woman's mother in law (who is several years older) appears in better command of her physical and (certainly)mental faculties her being in a retirement home notwithstanding. The family debates whether to institutionalize their mother or to look after her at home with some very painful moral choices. Vergiss mein nicht will make you cry and laugh at the same time.