Mukono, 29 October 2018:- The World Health Organization (WHO) is supporting the Ministry of Health to train health workers in Uganda’s armed forces on surveillance and clinical management of the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD).
The training comes in the wake of increasing EVD cases in neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) where 267 cumulative cases with 170 deaths had been recorded as on 28th October 2018. The epicenter for the current outbreak is close to the very porous Uganda-DRC border which makes importation of cases highly likely. Additionally, communities at the border are closely linked through kinship, culture, religion and even trade making close interaction a daily occurrence.
Since 2000 when Uganda had its first EVD outbreak, the armed forces have always been part and parcel of the country’s response strategy and activities. Little wonder therefore that as the situation continues to worsen in DRC, they should be prepared for any eventuality because they will definitely be part of the response if “push comes to shove”!
In that regard, the training provides an opportunity to build their capacity to be able to effectively detect, investigate, and report suspected EVD cases. They will also be equipped with skills in principles of managing VHFs including management of suspected or confirmed cases of Ebola patients; management of severe confirmed or suspected cases of Ebola or VHF; and provision of psychological support and Infection prevention and control.
At present, WHO has prepositioned four (4) Viral Hemorrhagic Fever (VHF) kits to support Uganda in case of an Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) outbreak. However, the effective use of the kits requires skilled health workers to utilize the supplies in the kits. Besides, the International Health Regulations (IHR 2005), recommend that WHO supports countries to enhance the clinical skills of the health staff in order to effectively manage EVD patients, prevent amplification of the EVD at health facilities and outbreak control at epicentres.
Therefore, this training is critical given that Viral hemorrhagic fevers are severe, life-threatening and of particular public health importance. They can spread rapidly in hospital settings, have a high case-fatality rate and are difficult to recognize and to detect quickly. This requires that health workers such those in Uganda’s armed forces are trained to have a high index of suspicion and to respond appropriately for their own safety, their patients and the communities at large.
The five-day training conducted at Ridah Hotel in Mukono follows similar ones that WHO and the Ministry of Health have conducted in the high-risk districts of Bundibugyo, Bunyangabu, Kampala, Kabarole, Kasese, Hoima, Kikuube, Ntoroko and Wakiso in which over 100 health workers have been trained on EVD.