After a three day visit, Director of U.S, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – CDC, Dr. Rochelle Walensky says there has been a return on investment to Uganda’s health sector.
The CDC also committed to continue to support Uganda’s efforts to scale up border health systems.
Dr. Walensky was at the CDC offices inside Uganda Virus Research Institute (UVRI) in Entebbe Municipality speaking about her three day visit which enabled her team assess the impact of the CDC partnership with Uganda in the last 30 years.
“The CDC values the long and close partnership it maintains with Uganda’s ministry of health and our many strong partners like, The Infectious Disease Institute (IDI), Baylor Uganda, The Uganda Virus Research Institute (UVRI) and The AIDS Support Organisation (TASO), and many more,” said Dr. Walensky.
CDC has worked closely with the Ministry of Health for over 30 years to build in-country capacity to prevent and respond to disease threats such as HIV, malaria, Ebola, COVID-19, and more. Its work focuses on technical exchange and partnership.
As the Public Health agency of the United States, the CDC knows what the Ministry of Health of Uganda and all public health partners know – that the only way for people in either of our countries to be safe is for all countries to be able to manage disease outbreaks at their source.
To support the collective goal of strong and capable health systems in Uganda, in addition to the technical collaboration the CDC has also contributed more than 2 billion dollars towards improving the health of Ugandans, contributing to the considerable progress Uganda is making towards achieving the UNAIDS 95-95-95 HIV testing and treatment goals.
These investments have also supported more than 500 public health professionals trained through the Field Epidemiology Training Program (FETP), hundreds of outbreak investigations (260 since workforce training began in 2015), international accreditation of 34 Ugandan laboratories, and the systems needed to make the internationally-acclaimed health journal, The Lancet, name Uganda one of the top 10 countries in the world for their response to COVID-19.
Speaking about her three day visit, Dr. Walensky detailed her activities in the country to assess the impact of the CDC partnership with Uganda for the last 30 years.
Dr. Walensky says she visited Mpondwe border area in Kasese, where through technical collaboration by officials from CDC, Kasese district, Ministry of Health and the World Health Organisation – WHO were able to identify Ebola virus spill over cases that occurred in 2019 and successfully prevent community spread in Uganda.
She also met government of Uganda officials, people involved in HIV prevention and service delivery initiatives, public health workforce development, public health emergency response and global health security.
From her interaction with these officials and visits to some of the project sites such as the Emergency Operation Centre in Kampala, Mpondwe border point and Zika Forest in Katabi Town Council.
Last December, the health minister Dr, Jane Ruth Aceng said the Ministry requires UGX 131 billion shillings to start providing port health services in some parts of the country. She noted that port health is an expensive venture because Ugandan borders lack the structures, equipment, and workers.
The World Health Organisation- WHO’s international Health Regulations, 2005 require countries to maintain health measures and response capacity at designated airports, ports, and ground crossings to prevent and contain the spread of diseases through people, conveyances, and goods.
Dr. Aceng however said Uganda is struggling to meet these regulations because its border points hardly have the structures, equipment, and workers to provide port health services.
Dr. Aceng said with shillings 131 billion, the ministry would be able to set up port health units at some of the 53 border points and at Entebbe International Airport. This would be done in a phased manner. The ministry has so far set up or still setting up port health structures at Elegu (border with South Sudan), Mpondwe (DR Congo border), and Busia (Kenya border).
Dr. Daniel Kyabayinze, the Director Public Health at the health ministry, uplauded the CDC for providing technical support such as training of port health workers. He however says more units, equipment and personnel are required to serve other border points for early detection of diseases.
Kyabayinze says Walensky’s visit gave the ministry the opportunity to request for CDC’s technical and financial support for among others port health structures and services.
Dr. Lisa Nelson, the Acting Global Health Coordination Unit Director, CDC , says CDC Uganda cannot disclose how much it will invest in the health sector for the next five years at the moment but will discuss with government on critical areas for support.
Meanwhile, the US Ambassador to Uganda Natalie E. Brown said “the US mission could not be prouder of the results of the over 30-year collaboration between the CDC and Uganda ministry of health.”
She says CDC has worked closely with th health ministry to build in-country capacity to prevent and respond to disease threats such as HIV, malaria, Ebola, COVID-19 among others.
Ambassador Brown noted that the CDC through the U.S President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) supports more than 700,000 Ugandans living with HIV to receive free care and treatment services.
“This collaboration has made substantial gains in strengthening health systems, advancing science-based public health initiatives, enhancing capacity for surveillance, early identification, and control of epidemics and other disease threats including COVID-19,” Brown added.
Brown added that the CDC on top of technical collaboration to support the establishment of strong and capable health systems, CDC has contributed over 2 billion US Dollars, about Shillings 7.8 trillion towards improving the health of Ugandans and contributing to the considerable progress Uganda is making towards achieving the UNAIDS 95-95-95 HIV testing and treatment goals.
“These investments have also supported training of more than 500 public health professionals, international accreditation of 34 Ugandan laboratories.”