Monday , July 26 2021

Uganda will vaccinate health workers in the midst of spreading the disease along the DRC border




Photo: daily monitor

A medical officer attends a suspicious Ebola patient. Dr. Mathew Lukwiya (embedded) died of ebola when the disease first erupted in 2000.

Uganda plans to start vaccinating some of its healthcare workers against Ebola on Wednesday, which has given the vaccine to the first country in the world without an active epidemic.

Uganda vaccines at least 3,000 health professionals in five districts bordering the Democratic Republic of Congo, where the Ebola epidemic killed at least 180 people.

The vaccination program in this area is fueled by fears of disease spreading across the border of the two countries, porosity of this border is a major concern, according to Grace Kiwanuka, Executive Director of Uganda Health Federation.

"We saw great exposure to health workers at the border of the Congo," Kiwanuka told RFI. "There is a real need for some sort of intervention to protect these workers. Uganda has a very porous border with DR Congo, so we have a lot of refugees and other people who go beyond where there is violence."

Eastern DRC violence prevents the fight against Ebola

In most DR Congo, the government has taken some important measures to help fight the spread of Ebola. For example, at places of entry and exit from large cities where the Ebola case existed, people are being screened for disease and must follow their hands to contain the virus.

In light of the violence in eastern Congo, there are questions as to how well-equipped Kinshasa should deal with the spread of Ebola there.

"The situation does not improve in this region," RFE Emmanuel Dupuy, Africa expert and IPSE think-tank chief in Paris, told RFE. "Numerous rebel groups are still active there, as President Joseph Kabil said when he recently talked to the UN when questioning the effectiveness of UN peacekeeping missions in eastern DRC for nearly 20 years."

"There are areas that are very difficult to access and when dealing with Ebola, you need to be able to isolate patients, as well as track contacts, monitor all contacts of different people, and secure and dignified tombs," added Tricia Norwood, an official borderless physician based in Bunia in the eastern DRC, near the Uganda border.

"To do this, you need to gain community trust and need a good sharing of information to the community and it's really difficult when you do not have access to specific communities," Norwood told RFI. "I know that the DRC's Ministry of Health is trying hard to get access to specific communities, but [the security situation] it certainly complicates the whole answer. "


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