Uganda’s groundwork in preparedness bodes well for stopping Ebola’s spread within its borders

Content provided by APO Group. CNBC Africa provides content from APO Group as a service to its readers, but does not edit the articles it publishes. CNBC Africa is not responsible for the content provided by APO Group.
Download logo

As Uganda steps up its response to its first confirmed Ebola cases, preparations made since the outbreak began in the neighbouring Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) are proving crucial to containing the disease.

“Uganda has invested heavily in preparing for Ebola cases and I’m looking forward to seeing how this investment has paid off,” said Dr Matshidiso Moeti, World Health Organization (WHO) Regional Director for Africa who begins a two-day mission today to see first-hand, the progress Uganda has made in fighting the Ebola Virus Disease.

“Health authorities have moved quickly to limit the spread of the deadly pathogen,” she said.

In Uganda, as of 22 June, there have been a total of three confirmed cases of Ebola Virus Disease. All three had recently travelled to the DRC, and all succumbed to the disease. In response, 108 of their contacts are registered for follow-up. Since the outbreak was declared,  980 people at high risk of Ebola have been vaccinated. There currently are no new confirmed cases of Ebola in Uganda.

Uganda shares a nearly 900-kilometre-long border with the DRC, where the disease has claimed over 1 400 lives since August 2018. Along much of the border, people mix and move across freely, often with family, friends and business contacts on both sides. Plugging the gaps is a major headache for emergency planners. 

Uganda has called for the support of WHO and partners and together they have trained more than 16 000 community leaders and volunteers in remote border areas to spot the symptoms, provide medical attention to potential patients and to alert the authorities.

While huge risks remain, these local teams serve as the eyes and ears of a complex set of district and national emergency systems that cover surveillance, infection prevention and control, patient care, cross-border activities and coordination with communities.

All high-risk districts can now screen people, identify suspect cases and trace the contacts of potential patients when needed, and it's a testament to Uganda’s preparations that Ebola was kept out for this long.

“In over 10 months since Ebola appeared in Congo, we dealt with over 600 alerts,” explained Dr. Henry Mwebesa, Director-General of Health Services for the Ugandan Health Ministry, shortly before the first case in Uganda was confirmed.

“Any case of high fever with some bleeding is considered an alert, and we’ve made sure we have enough infection prevention and control materials in place.”

“We can also test blood samples here in Uganda now, giving us the results in just 24 hours.”

Screening on the border, training  over 9 000 health workers, repeated simulation exercises, and vaccinations for over 4 700 health workers – all supported by WHO – have been crucial in laying the groundwork for the response.

“The lesson [from the preparedness phase] is that it is vital to build up solid structures and systems,” said Dr Mwebesa. “So even if this outbreak stopped today, and if we got another outbreak- say two years later, we would be in a much stronger position to deal with it.”

Dr Mwebesa acknowledged that the challenges related to the often-porous border with the DRC remain.

“People cross. Some of them even have families on the other side, so people are coming over, including from affected areas,” he said. “But we have village health teams, we have volunteers who are trained to identify these cases.”

Gerald Misaleza, a nursing officer in the high-risk border district of Bundibugyo, explained that educating communities is key to securing the unmarked areas.

“We teach community leaders and volunteers about the dangers. We’ve trained them to spot the symptoms, isolate potential patients and alert the district Ebola task team.”

Dr Moeti is attending a meeting today at the Emergency Operations Centre in Kampala. This is the nerve centre of the current Ebola response. Tomorrow, together with the Minister of Health of Uganda, Dr Jane Ruth Aceng, she will visit Kasese and meet with local health authorities and first responders.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of World Health Organization (WHO).

Related Content

Distell CEO: What the sale of alcohol under level 3 means for the industry

South Africans can look forward to popping their favourite bottle of bubbly or sipping on a glass of pinotage to warm up from the cold winter. That’s as alcohol sales, that were banned for over two months under the Covid-19 lock-down, will be lifted. Distell CEO Richard Rushton joins CNBC Africa for more.

This Rwandan publisher is creating buzz with new book App

After realising the challenges that come with publishing fellow African writers, home-grown publishing house, Imagine We Rwanda launched their very own mobile app, dubbed, Imagine Books. Fast forward 2 weeks and hundreds of titles have been purchased worldwide and the numbers are only going up. CNBC Africa spoke to the founder, Dominique Alonga for more.

COVID-19: This virtual concert campaign is bringing together African artists for charity

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected livelihoods across the continent and different initiatives have been instituted to support them. One of them is a campaign dubbed “We are one Africa” which aims to sustain various communities and groups through virtual concerts. Project Manager, Andrew Alovi joins CNBC Africa for more.

Kenya’s tech sector unveils video conferencing system

Kenya has recently launched the first made-in-Africa video conferencing system that will enable users to enjoy better quality calls with unlimited attendees, at more affordable prices. The video conferencing system will also enable African countries to retain the fees in local economies, compared to competition that repatriates it off the continent. Jay Shapiro, CEO and Co-Founder of Usiku Games joins CNBC Africa for more.

Subscribe to our newsletter

Sign up for free newsletters and get more CNBC AFRICA delivered to your inbox

More from CNBC Africa

Rebosis rolls out COVID-19 testing stations outside malls

Property Group Rebosis, has partnered with government to roll out testing stations for Covid-19 outside its shopping malls in Pretoria – South Africa’s capital. However, foot traffic into these malls is expected to have dived due to the virus lock-downs prevented non-essential stores from trading. Rebosis is yet to release its interim results. Rebosis CEO Sisa Ngebulana joins CNBC Africa for more.

Distell CEO: What the sale of alcohol under level 3 means for the industry

South Africans can look forward to popping their favourite bottle of bubbly or sipping on a glass of pinotage to warm up from the cold winter. That’s as alcohol sales, that were banned for over two months under the Covid-19 lock-down, will be lifted. Distell CEO Richard Rushton joins CNBC Africa for more.

This Rwandan publisher is creating buzz with new book App

After realising the challenges that come with publishing fellow African writers, home-grown publishing house, Imagine We Rwanda launched their very own mobile app, dubbed, Imagine Books. Fast forward 2 weeks and hundreds of titles have been purchased worldwide and the numbers are only going up. CNBC Africa spoke to the founder, Dominique Alonga for more.

COVID-19: This virtual concert campaign is bringing together African artists for charity

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected livelihoods across the continent and different initiatives have been instituted to support them. One of them is a campaign dubbed “We are one Africa” which aims to sustain various communities and groups through virtual concerts. Project Manager, Andrew Alovi joins CNBC Africa for more.

Partner Content

VIVO CEO is a dynamic leader for this innovative global brand

May 2020 -- Six months ago the vision for vivo in South Africa was just beginning to...

Building Africa’s Biggest Digital Classroom

An enduring lesson learnt throughout our 175-year existence is that, while things rapidly change around us, the things that truly matter don’t!...

Trending Now

How The Medical Device Supply Chain Failed During Covid-19

More than three months into the coronavirus pandemic, health-care workers on the front-lines of the battle against Covid-19 say they still face shortages of personal protective equipment. The personal protective shortage was one of the early flashpoi

Tsogo Sun Hotels FY profits plunge, COVID-19 lock-downs weigh

Hospitality Group Tsogo Sun Hotels reported a 31 per cent plunge in full year headline earnings per share, with Covid-19 resulting in demand from international tourist retracting in the fourth quarter, due to global lock-downs.

Nampak swings into H1 loss, suffers R3bn impairment

Nampak swung to a half year loss of R2.4 billion as revenue plunged and it impaired its Angola and Nigeria assets by R3 billion, which is four times its market value. The also warned that future profits were in South Africa were at risk from the ban on alcohol sales due to Covid-19 lock-downs. Nampak CEO, Erik Smuts joins CNBC Africa for more.

How COVID-19 impacts the health & well-being of children

Research shows that children have a lower rate of contracting the Coronavirus and bringing infections to the household. This should provide comfort to South African parents that are in two minds about sending their kids back to school next week, when physical teaching is set to resume. Epidemiologist, Dr Boshoff Steenekamp joins CNBC Africa for more.
- Advertisement -