Do not ban travel, trade over Ebola - WHO

By Vision Reporter

IN Kibaale a district task force has been formed to better coordinate field response. The neighbouring districts have been put on high alert about the outbreak and to step up surveillance

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By Conan Businge

THE WORLD Health Organisation believes that it is not necessary to have travel or trade bans slapped on Uganda following the deadly Ebola outbreak.

“WHO does not recommend that any travel or trade restrictions are applied to Uganda,” reads partly a statement on the WHO website.

This is contained in a Global Alert and Response statement which was released yesterday by the global health body. 

“The Ministry of Health of Uganda has notified WHO of an outbreak of Ebola haemorrhagic fever in Kibaale district in the western part of the country,” adds the statement.

The health ministry is working with stakeholders and partners to control the outbreak. “Response plans at the national and district levels are being finalised. A national task force coordinated by the health ministry has been re-activated at the headquarters and holds daily meetings,” adds the statement. 

In Kibaale a district task force has been formed to better coordinate field response. The neighbouring districts have been put on high alert about the outbreak and to step up surveillance.

A team of experts from health ministry, WHO and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is in Kibaale to support the response operations.

“All possible contacts that were exposed to the suspected and confirmed cases since 6 July 2012 are being identified for active follow up. The necessary supplies and logistics required for supportive management of patients are being mobilised,” it adds.

The incurable disease, caused by a virus, has killed at least 13 people in Nyanswiga Village in Nyamarunda sub-county since it broke out three weeks ago. The affected families initially thought it was either witchcraft or evil spirits. 

As a result they took the first patients to Owobusubozi Bisaka’s shrine for prayers. Bisaka is the leader of a religious sect called Faith of Unity.  Two patients died in that shrine.

Dr. Joachim Saweka, the WHO country representative, said WHO Geneva would dispatch 2,000 sets of protective gear and body bags to prevent spread of the disease. Additional assistance is expected from the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention. 

There are five types of Ebola namely Ebola Zaire, Ebola Sudan, Ebola Côte d’Ivoire, Ebola Bundibugyo and  Ebola Reston. The type confirmed in Kibaale is Ebola Sudan, which is less deadly than Ebola Zaire. When Ebola Sudan broke out in Gulu in 2,000, about four out of every 10 patients were able to recover. On the contrary, Ebola Zaire inevitably kills most of the people who get it.

Meanwhile, fear gripped Mulago Hospital workers on Friday after it emerged that one of the patients who died there last week had come from Kibaale. 

The patient, a 40-year-old woman named Clare Muhumuza, was received at Mulago on the evening of Friday June 20 and died within a few hours. She was the clinical officer treating the patients at Kagadi Hospital. 

Ebola: No need to ban travel to or restrict trade with Uganda