Uganda is to benefit from a USD 5 million emergency fund provided by the World Health Organization to fight the spread of Ebola in the country and the neighbouring countries.
So far, 39 people have died in Uganda, according to the Ministry of Health, while overall, there have been 64 confirmed cases and 20 probable cases. At least 14 people have recovered from the disease and a follow-up is being conducted on more than than 660 contacts.
“Our primary focus now is to support the Government of Uganda to rapidly control and contain this outbreak, to stop it spreading to neighbouring districts, and neighbouring countries,” the World Health Organisation chief, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said during a meeting in Geneva on Wednesday.
Similar issues formed the core of the emergency high-level ministerial meeting which was held at Speke Resort Munyonyo bringing together East and West African officials with experience in handling Ebola. The meeting aimed at enhancing cross-border collaboration for emergency preparedness and response in fighting the spread of the Ebola virus.
Fiona Braka, the Coordinator of Emergency Operations at the World Health Organization said that the fund is to help Uganda and neighbouring countries to mitigate the risk of contracting the deadly virus, saying that it’s essential to address these risks so that countries are well-prepared to manage the importation of the virus.
She added that part of the money has been released. Of this USD 2 million is going directly to Uganda and USD 3 million to neighbouring countries to beef up their capacity in terms of readiness and preparedness.
Dr Ahmed Ouma, the acting director of the Africa Centre for Disease Control, said that there is a need for African countries to work together across borders to handle public health emergencies.
“Many times in Africa when we have emergencies we wait for partners to come and support we are saying that we must change that, the public and private sectors we have resources that we must use to initiate responses that way we set our priority and any partner that may come may be fitting in the priorities that we have set,” Dr Ouma said.
He said they have come up with a new public health order policy passed in April 2021 for Africans to manage their emergencies without waiting on donations.
The Minister of Health Dr Jane Ruth Aceng said that the ministry received trial drugs which are monoclonal antibodies and they used them to treat the health workers that were infected by the virus and were discharged Tuesday. She added that Uganda is awaiting the arrival of 471 doses of two vaccines from England and the USA to be used for the Sudan Ebola Virus.
Aceng added that the vaccines are now in their phase, two and three trials after passing the safety phase and they will be used in the area with the current Ebola outbreak next week.
Since 2000, Uganda has experienced repeated outbreaks of Ebola Viral disease in the districts of Gulu, Bundibugyo in 2007, Luwero in 2011, Kibale in July 2012, and Luwero in November 2012, and now the outbreak of Ebola Sudan this year.