Uganda heightens Ebola preparedness response
In the wake of an Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Uganda has heightened its surveillance and alertness at the Uganda-DRC border. This was revealed at a high-level breakfast meeting held at Golf Course Hotel in Kampala to brief the Diplomatic Corps, the Health Development Partners and the media in Uganda about the current outbreak in DRC and status of Uganda’s Ebola preparedness response.
The preparedness response is currently in the high-risk districts neighbouring DRC including Bundibugyo, Bunyangabu, Hoima, Kabarole, Kasese, Ntoroko. Kampala and Entebbe are also on high alert.
Currently, Uganda has deployed response preparedness teams including community engagement, sample collection, surveillance, border-screening, case management and psycho-social support experts. WHO has also supported capacity building of 589 health workers trained in case management, 32 Health educators trained in Risk Communication and 55 Rapid Response Teams in Ebola case management
Additionally, logistical support has also been deployed including four Ebola Kits, infrared thermometers, Infection Prevention and Prevention equipment, Information and Education Material in all the high-risk districts. Two fully equipped Ebola treatment Units had been deployed in Bundibugyo and Kasese.
The Minister of Health Dr Jane Ruth Aceng, who was the guest of honour, informed the guests that currently Uganda has no case of Ebola. She, however, highlighted the level of threat of Ebola saying, “Ebola is real and we cannot downplay the importance of readiness. Global Health Security is important, a threat anywhere is a threat everywhere.” She re-echoed the concerns of the WHO Director-General about the insecurity in North-Kivu, the Epi-center, pointing out that it complicates the management of the outbreak in DRC.
Dr Aceng appreciated the World Health Organization (WHO) and other partners for the support rendered in the preparedness.
In his remarks, the WHO Representative in Uganda Dr Yonas Tegegn Woldemariam mentioned that despite Uganda’s preparedness efforts, management of the outbreak in DRC still faces challenges which place Uganda at risk.
He, however, reaffirmed WHO’s commitment to support MoH to reach the required level of preparedness to early detect and prevent the outbreak from spreading into the country.
The officials in attendance included Ambassadors of Iceland, Iran, Italy, United Kingdom, United States, the Representative of the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), and officials from Embassies of Belgium, Germany, Netherlands, Norway, the Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA), the Ministry of Health, United Nations Office of the Commissioner for Human Rights (UNOCHR), the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) as well as the media.