Uganda declared free of Ebola
By Anne Mugisa and Ismael Kasooha
Uganda is free of Ebola, the Ministry of Health and the World Health Organisation have declared. As a result, President Yoweri Museveni has urged Saudi Arabia to allow Ugandan Muslims perform their religious obligation, the annual Muslim Haj pilgrimage.
The Saudi authorities denied over 150 Ugandan Muslims who wanted to join two million others from all over the world to perform the Haj in Mecca and Medina. The Saudi Ambassador to Uganda, Jamal Abdulaziz Raffa, who called on the President at State House, Entebbe, pledged to speak to the Saudi authorities about his request.
At the function to mark the end of the epidemic, the health workers who survived the deadly haemorrhagic fever broke down and cried yesterday as the country was declared free of the disease.
Partners who helped in the Ebola fight were accorded recognition at Kagadi Hospital in Kibaale, which was the epicentre.
Health state minister Sarah Opendi noted that the last confirmed case was discharged on August 24 and none has been reported since in the whole country.
She said the country has developed strategies and means to quickly detect and manage such epidemics. “We managed to contain this epidemic so fast due to the immediate response when the epidemic was confirmed,” said Opendi.
She said the ministry was helped by the country’s development partners and the private sector to contain the epidemic. The two survivors were identified as Gloria Tumwijukye and Mary Asaba. The third, Claire Muhumuza, died.
The minister commended President Yoweri Museveni for leading community mobilisation when Ebola was confirmed.
The WHO country representative, Dr. Joaquim Saweka, urged Ugandans to invest more in disease surveillance to reduce on deaths caused by epidemics.
He expressed regret that disease outbreaks, especially Ebola, had claimed lives of health workers in the line of duty.
“There is need for routine infection control to avoid health worker deaths while at work,” Saweka said. He noted that Uganda is prone to disease outbreaks.