Kampala 24th December 2018: - The Minister of Health, Dr Jane Ruth Aceng has lauded government partners for their support in the current Ebola preparedness response in Uganda and urged them to support the government to build systems for future disease outbreak responses.
This was at a meeting held at the Serena Hotel in Kampala, where partners in the Ebola preparedness response briefed Ministry of Health (MoH) leadership and donors about their work to ensure that Uganda is prepared to manage an EVD outbreak, should there be one.
Dr Aceng further appreciated the support from partners and donors including DFID, US Government, Ireland Government and Chinese Government for the financial support in the preparedness response. She recognized the development partners on ground for their support to MoH in the response.
The Ebola preparedness response in Uganda is a multifaceted one with many partners and donors supporting the MoH to ensure that the country is safe from an Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) outbreak.
This is owing to the ongoing Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), where the epicentre of the outbreak is close to the Ugandan border in the west.
Resources have thus been given to various partners to support the Ministry of Health to implement the EVD preparedness response activities.
The partners include Center for Disease Control (CDC), International Organization for Migration (IOM), Uganda Red Cross Society, United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), World Health Organization (WHO), and the World Food Program (WFP).
On their part, WHO highlighted the current activities it is undertaking in the high-risk districts of Uganda. These include supporting overall coordination of the preparedness response where WHO has deployed staff to support the MoH to coordinate the different response activities. In addition, WHO is currently supporting the vaccination of frontline health workers in the 20 high-risk districts, where an additional 3000 doses were donated by WHO. The exercise is still ongoing.
At the borders, points of entry have been mapped out and WHO, with support from Uganda Red Cross volunteers are screening for the temperature of all travellers from DRC into Uganda looking out for any signs and symptoms of Ebola. Thermal scanners have also been installed at the Entebbe international airport to take temperatures of all incoming travellers as well.
Community-Based Disease Surveillance is also ongoing, using Village Health Team Members, who in turn report to the surveillance focal person in case of any alert or suspected cases.
In addition, WHO and WFP have supported MoH to set up, Ebola Treatment Units (ETUs) at Bwera Hospital in Kasese and another at Bundibugyo Referral hospital in Bundibugyo. These are fully equipped and ready to be used, in case of a suspected case.
WHO has also supported capacity building in the high-risk districts in the various activities of the response including case management, risk communication, laboratory capacity, surveillance, safe and dignified burials.
Furthermore, WHO is working closely with UNICEF to ensure effective risk communication and community engagement. Home to Home visits have been incorporated in the response to reach everyone in the community. Radio messages and posters are also being used to create awareness and increase alertness. In addition, all leaders in the districts have been sensitized and empowered with relevant information and messages about EVD to share with their communities.
In addition to supporting the construction of ETUs, WFP is providing logistical support and plans to underway to construct a permanent screening centre in Mpondwe at the Uganda-DRC border are underway.
Laboratory services have also been made available with support from CDC Atlanta and WHO, thus daily sample analysis is carried out at the Uganda Virus Research Institute.
Dr Aceng, however, called on the partners to maintain the current momentum in the preparedness response until the outbreak in DRC is declared over.