By Innocent Anguyo, Juliet Waiswa and Nelson Kukundakwe
FOR the next 12 months, Uganda which has a history of the containing Ebola outbreaks will train 150 health workers from East Africa in detection and treatment of the haemorrhagic fever.
Ebola which is a severe illness with fatality rate of up to 90% is one of the world's most virulent diseases, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). It is transmitted by direct contact with the blood, body fluids and tissues of infected animals or people.
Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania will each present 50 health workers for the training to be conducted by the Infectious Disease Institute (IDI) at Makerere University College of Health Science, in conjunction with the US Medical Research Institute for Infectious Diseases.
Dr Umaru Ssekabira of IDI said the training will start in October. The 150 will be identified by the Health Ministries in their respective countries.
Ugandan health workers will be sourced from districts bordering Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), where cases of Ebola have now doubled, with 31 new incidences reported by WHO between September 2 and 9, bringing the total number to 62.
Some of the border districts are Bundibugyo, Kasese, Kabale Fort Portal and Kanungu.
Ssekabira said districts that have witnessed outbreak of the disease in the past such as Gulu, Kiryandongo and Masindi will equally contribute personnel for the training.
The training will emphasise on infection prevention and control; but assimilation of veterinary medicine into the fight against Ebola will also be taught.
Skills of detecting and treating various contagious diseases, effective reporting of Ebola cases and reinforcement of community linkages in the fight against the disease are other modules.
Ssekabira said the training would reduce death of medics to the haemorrhagic fever. Dr Mathew Lukwiya and Dr Samuel Muhumuza Mutoro are some senior Ugandan medics who have died of the disease.
At the end of the training, Ssekabira said the health workers will receive certificates.
This will be the second Ebola training for health workers in East Africa conducted by IDI. In the last one year, IDI trained 74 Ugandan health workers, 15 of whom were trainers of trainers. 62 Kenyan and 21 Tanzanian health workers were also trained.
Most of the medics thrown into the ring against Ebola before last year hadn't attained prior training in handling the disease, with many of them having to make do with training on the job.
Uganda recently sent 20 experts to Sierra Leone and Liberia to help curb the spread of the disease which has claimed over 2,200 lives there in the past nine months. Ebola was discovered in DRC, then Zaire, 38 years ago.
Ssekabira made the remarks last week, at a debate on Ebola and other Zoonotic diseases held at Imperial Royale Hotel in Kampala.
Prof Ojok Lonzy of Makerere University said there was need to undertake research into Ebola vaccines and treatment suited to the African conditions.
Dr. Clovice Kankya, of Makerere University department of Biosecurity, Eco-systems and Veterinary Public Health called for the formation of an authority to lead the fight against zoonosis.
Uganda to train Ebola experts for East Africa