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Health

Govt on high Ebola alert as more deaths are reported in Eastern DRC

The worst Ebola epidemic at the border with the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) leaves Uganda unsleepy.  (FILE PHOTO)

KAMPALA– The State Minister for Health (General Duties), Sarah Opendi, has assured Members of Parliament that Uganda is still on high alert, especially at the border with the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)  in a bid to check the spread of Ebola.

Opendi says active screening of persons crossing from the DRC is ongoing at the border as part of the efforts to keep Ugandans and the country safe the epidemic. “It is true that there is an outbreak of Ebola in the eastern part of the DRC but I want to confirm that we do not have Ebola in Uganda. All we are doing is surveillance to ensure that we do not have cases spilling over into our country,” said Opendi.

The Minister made this assurance while responding to a concern raised by Rukungiri Municipality MP Ronald Mugume during plenary on Tuesday, 12 February 2019. Mugume was concerned about the high number of refugees crossing into Uganda at the time when there is an outbreak of Ebola reported in the DRC.

Opendi also told the House that a high alert was in place with the local communities and village health teams, which had helped to intercept a body of a person who had died from Ebola that was being transported from the DRC to Tororo district in Eastern Uganda for burial.

“We have also joined cross border engagements with the local government on the DRC side and we have also had inter-ministerial meetings on how to curb the spread of Ebola. This has helped us to track Ebola cases,” said Opendi.

Mugume also noted that a visit to the border districts showed no evident measures being taken to check the spread of Ebola.

“I understand now that Ebola is on the increase in the DRC; we want to know how far the Government has gone to protect our people from this disease,” Mugume said.

MPs also raised concerns over limited or no screening equipment in some districts, saying that it had put Ugandans at risk from refugee settlements owing to the country’s porous borders.

“While there are measures to screen persons crossing borders, the posts at Nebbi and Koboko have no screening equipment. It is important that such equipment is set up in the West Nile region,” said Bernard Atiku (IND, Ayivu County).

State Minister for Housing Chris Baryomunsi credited Ministry of Health for setting up control measures to check the spread of such epidemics in Western districts including Kanungu. “There is a lot of sensitisation on radios and when you go to public places like banks, there are facial control measures. So, there is a lot of groundwork going on,” said Baryomunsi.

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