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Sierra Leone, Guinea medical experts in Uganda over disease control

By Vivian Agaba

Added 23rd June 2016 08:15 PM

In 2014 Ebola epidemic, the largest in history, broke out in West Africa killing thousands of people with the most affected countries being Liberia which registered over 4810 deaths, Sierra Leone, 3956 deaths and Guinea, 2544 deaths, and Uganda sent a team of health experts to help combat the disease.

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The Director of the Uganda National Emergency Coordination and Operations Centre, Office of the Prime Minister, Maj. Gen. Julius Oketa (right) briefing the delegation from Sierra Leone during a tour of the Uganda Disaster Risk Information Centre in Kampala on June 22, 2016.Photos/ Abou Kisige

In 2014 Ebola epidemic, the largest in history, broke out in West Africa killing thousands of people with the most affected countries being Liberia which registered over 4810 deaths, Sierra Leone, 3956 deaths and Guinea, 2544 deaths, and Uganda sent a team of health experts to help combat the disease.

By Martin Kitubi

After massive deaths of people in the West African nations of Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia to Ebola, medical experts from Sierra Leone and Guinea have jetted into the country to borrow a leaf on how to combat any zoonotic/epidemic diseases in case of any future outbreaks.

In 2014 Ebola epidemic, the largest in history, broke out in West Africa killing thousands of people with the most affected countries being Liberia which registered over 4810 deaths, Sierra Leone, 3956 deaths and Guinea, 2544 deaths, and Uganda sent a team of health experts to help combat  the disease.

The team of 10 delegates led by the deputy minister, ministry of health and sanitation, Sierra Leaone, Madina S. Rahman and Mohamed Elmahady Camara, focal point, ministry of Health, Guinea are here on a four -days visit to share experiences, gain understanding and learn how to manage epidemics in their countries.

Meeting with officials from Ministry of health at the Ministry headquarters on Wednesday, the delegates said when the deadly disease broke out in their countries, they did not have any experiences or any structures in place to handle and control it which led to loss of thousands of lives.

Madina said they admire the structures Uganda has in place to address outbreak of epidemic diseases and as a country, they are ready to borrow ideas and implement in Sierra Leone.

"First of all, we are very grateful to the government of Uganda for having sent a team of medical personnel to help us deal with the Ebola scourge. If we were alone, we could not afford fighting the Ebola," she said

"Uganda has good systems to tackle emergencies for instance functional Emergency Operations Centre (EOC), rapid exchange of information, which are embedded in the public health emergency and response structured systems. It is the uniqueness of what Uganda has done that has brought us here, with this visit, we hope to learn from each other, go back home and put such systems in place to better our health system and also help our continent fight diseases and epidemics," she added.

 he acting irector eneral ealth ervices nthony bonye shaks hands with adina  ahman ierra eones eputy inister of ealth and anitation  after a conference that hosted a delegation of experts from uinea and ierra eone  at inistry of ealth eadquarters on une 21 2016hoto acheal assuuna The acting Director General Health Services, Anthony Mbonye(C) shaks hands with Madina S Rahman, Sierra Leone’s Deputy Minister of Health and Sanitation after a conference that hosted a delegation of experts from Guinea and Sierra Leone at Ministry of Health Headquarters on June 21, 2016.Photo/ Racheal Nassuuna

 



Mohamed who was also equally grateful by government's gesture of sending doctors to Guinea to contain the disease said the country has no single structure to fight the catastrophes but following Uganda's successful stories of dealing with such diseases, Guinea is going to establish a functional EOC soon.

"Uganda has well organized structures to deal with epidemic outbreaks which we do not have in our country. To set up new and formal structures like emergency operations centre, train health workers to deal with such catastrophes, Uganda has a good experience for us to build on. We shall take this model (EOC) into our country to deal with any future emergency diseases," he said.

Dr. Anthony Mbonye, acting director, general health services, Ministry of health said when the first Ebola scourge broke up in Gulu in 2000, leaving about 200 people dead, the country was caught off guard and control initiatives had to be put in place to address future disasters and epidemics.

Some of the structures Mbonye pointed out include establishment of emergency operations Centre (EOC), National task force to carry out proper and useful coordination structures in managing epidemics, mobilization of resources, data collection, reports and disease alerts.

Other structures that were put in place include subcommittees to deal with the outbreaks, social mobilizations, good surveillance case management systems and psycho-social support.

"We have had outbreaks of different epidemic diseases like cholera, yellow fever, typhoid, Marburg but as a country, we have been able to control them before they intensify because of the structures in place plus support from development partners" said Mbonye

"These structures are here and are working effectively, in case of any emergency and you need support, we are willing to help." He added.

It is estimated that Uganda loses over US$ 1.9million an equivalent to over sh5b in epidemic outbreak costs annually.

 

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