There is an Ebola outbreak currently in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) which poses significant risk to neighbouring countries including Uganda, given the nature of dealings the two states ostensibly enjoy.
Uganda has had its own share of Ebola outbreaks in the past which have always led to severe illness, death, and considerable loss of resources both human and otherwise, in the affected areas.
In 2000, Uganda suffered an Ebola outbreak that resulted into more 400 reported cases and over 220 deaths mainly affecting Gulu district. Among those who died in that outbreak was the venerable Dr Mathew Lukwiya who was a medical doctor at St. Mary’s Lacor hospital in Gulu.
Dr Lukwiya had a firm belief that the death – spreading Ebola outbreak could be contained quickly despite the risk it posed to health workers involved in controlling the disease. Unfortunately, his life was cut short by the self-less sacrifice he asked of himself in trying to save his community. He is a true epitome of patriotism, a legacy of heroism unmatched!
In 2001, the Dr Mathew Lukwiya Memorial Lecture was launched in his honour to remember the humility and sacrifice of the revered doctor and team, who paid the ultimate price with their lives to contain the Ebola outbreak of 2000.
Following the launch of the memorial lecture, Uganda has been instrumental in dealing with infectious diseases and threats both locally and internationally.
Uganda is considered a model country in providing leadership in advancing the global health security agenda. This was evidenced by the technical support rendered in containing the 2014 Ebola epidemic in West Africa where materials and guidelines were bench-marked using Uganda.
This year, the 17th Dr Mathew Lukwiya Memorial Lecture will be held on 28th September 2018 at the Golf Course Hotel in Kampala, Uganda. This Memorial Lecture which will be jointly held with the 14th Joint Annual Scientific Health (JASH) Conference that will run from 26th to 28th September 2018, will be examining the progress in research that has been made in the fight against Ebola since the demise of Dr Lukwiya.
The conference is organised by Makerere University College of Health Sciences, Uganda National Association of Community and Occupational Health (UNACOH), Ministry of Health (MoH), and the World Health Organization (WHO).
This scientific conference with the theme “Research, Innovations and Resources for meeting the Sustainable Development Goals” will be an excellent opportunity for participants to network and share experiences in areas of: basic, clinical and health science research; innovation in health science; and resources for health.
The three-day conference is expected to attract several participants including researchers, health workers, policy makers, students, members of civil society, community members, and other stakeholders.
The conference will provide a platform for sharing and building consensus on research findings, innovations and experiences on resource mobilization to achieve the targets for the health related Sustainable Development Goals.
Resolutions from the conference will go a long way in informing policy makers and all key stakeholders in health to take action to address the dynamic nature of community health challenges.
The previous scientific conferences have inspired action to change by government that has integrated the action points into relevant national and sub-national programmes in a sustainable and all-inclusive way.
Some of the impacts of the previous conferences include but not limited to: progress towards achieving Universal Health Coverage through increased immunisation; progress towards elimination of HIV, TB and malaria; and innovative solutions for health challenges.
The writer is a researcher with Makerere University School of Public Health