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Uganda Steps Up Ebola Preparedness Ahead of DRC Polls

With neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) headed towards a contentious presidential poll, the government of Uganda has stepped up its Ebola preparedness to forestall any possible re-occurrence of the deadly hemorrhagic fever in the country.

Speaking at a media seminar on Ebola that was held at Golf course hotel today Wednesday, Doctor Miriam Nanyunja, the World Health Organization disease prevention and control officer, revealed that as a preventive measure Uganda has so far vaccinated over 2000 health workers tasked with containing the highly contagious disease in seven high risk districts.

These districts include: Kasese, Bundibugyo, Kamwenge, Rukungiri and Rubirizi among others.

According to Nanyunja, these and other health interventions are not only for capacity building purposes but are also aimed at keeping the disease at bay in the eventuality of a mass refugee influx should hell break loose in the neighboring Congo.

“We have heightened community surveillance through training village health teams; held inter-ministerial meetings and set up isolation centers for capacity building purposes. However in the event that DRC is going to the polls we do not know what might happen in the aftermath,” Nanyunja explained.

As if that is not enough, Health Minister Hon. Dr. Jane Ruth Aceng pointed out that as a result of rebel activities in the disease-hit eastern region of Congo, the number of Ebola cases have raised something that Uganda cannot take for granted.

“We have three issues; cross border trade, impending voting and two rebel groups – Allied Democratic Forces and Mai-Mai militia operating at the epicenter of the outbreak.  So we have to keep alert,” Aceng explained.

As premptive measures, she announced that government had set up over twenty three screening centers at the border districts of Kasese, Bundibugyo, Ntoroko and Kisoro among others.

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As such, the ministry has also established isolation centers all over the country to help contain this deadly and stubborn viral disease.

Collectively, according to Aceng, Ebola preparedness alone has cost the taxpayer over $19 million so far.

Aceng urged the media to join efforts with all stakeholders to disseminate accurate and timely information as one way of doing away with the scourge.

She said skewed and un-ethical journalism not only damages the reputation of the ministry but also affects the country’s economic prospects.

Congo is currently battling with its worst Ebola outbreak in years, with over 300 people already dead out of a total 531, according to World Health Organization as of December 18.

Among the dead include 17 health workers.

Since August, Uganda has received over 300 alert cases all testing negative. Apparently, the country is Ebola free.

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