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Ministry seeks sh64b for Ebola response

By Cecilia Okoth

Added 14th July 2019 05:26 PM

Arua, previously categorised as a moderate risk district, recently became a very high-risk district after a woman died of Ebola in Aliwara (Democratic Republic of Congo) which is 8km to the Arua border.

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Health minister, Dr. Jane Ruth Aceng. Photo/File

Arua, previously categorised as a moderate risk district, recently became a very high-risk district after a woman died of Ebola in Aliwara (Democratic Republic of Congo) which is 8km to the Arua border.

KAMPALA - The health ministry is seeking sh64b to conclude its response to the Ebola virus disease in Kasese district.

The funds according to health minister Dr. Jane Ruth Aceng will also help Uganda increase its preparedness levels towards other high-risk districts, particularly Arua in the West Nile region.

Arua, previously categorised as a moderate risk district, recently became a very high-risk district after a woman died of Ebola in Aliwara (Democratic Republic of Congo) which is 8km to the Arua border.  

It is from this incident, that the health ministry reactivated its preparedness activities in Arua.

Giving a breakdown of the budget intended for the second phase of preparedness and response, Aceng on Saturday said a huge chunk sh18bn will cater for case management infection prevention and control.

A total of sh17bn will be made available for water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) as well as infection prevention materials, and detergents, among others.

Aceng said for purposes of continued sensitisation, sh14.4bn will be set aside for community mobilization risk communication and community engagement.

“I want to allay the anxiety of the population. We have the capacity to ensure your safety. We only need you to keep alert and report any case of anybody with symptoms of Ebola to the nearest health facility,” she said.

Other funds will go towards ensuring surveillance laboratory support and points of entry sh7bn, logistics sh4bn, vaccination and investigation therapeutics sh1.7bn, psycho-social support, and mental health sh1.2b and coordination and leadership sh1bn.

The health ministry on Friday had an engagement with its key donors and partners including; USAID, DFID, Irish aid, among others, to discuss the response and preparedness plan for the next three months up to September. The event took place at the Golden Tulip Hotel in Kampala.

The short term plans according to Aceng, “Depends on how long the Ebola outbreak in the DRC will be. We implement these plans after three months, to evaluate and account for the funds collected.”

Uganda’s preparedness to Ebola was converted into response mode, following a confirmed case in Kasese last month. Ebola, currently ravaging Eastern DRC, particularly the Beni region, has continued to spread to new areas. Beni is 50km from the Ugandan border.

Since August last year, a total of 1,495 cases of Ebola were confirmed in DRC, with more than a thousand people succumbing to the disease, as of June last month.

Dr. Yonas Tegegn, the World Health Organisation (WHO) representative in Uganda said the threat for Uganda continues as long as Ebola is still in DRC.

He called upon the population to remain vigilant and to take note of the signs and symptoms for the disease, saying early detection is key.

Having vaccinated over 6000 health workers so far, Tegegn said the second phase will target vaccination of about 1100 health workers in Arua and surrounding areas.

“Vaccines have been made free and available to WHO because it is more effective and has up to 97% protection,” he said.

The health ministry spent approximately USD 18m, USD 3m of which was sourced from the Government in the first phase of preparedness since August last year to the end of June.

The funds were largely used to strengthen the health system that is currently able to respond to disease outbreaks of all kinds.

Other investments included; surveillance, training human resource, procuring transport equipment to trace contacts and contacts of contacts.

The health ministry also invested in a diagnostics lab station at Kasese, vaccination of over 6000 health workers in very high-risk districts.

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