KASINDI– As the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) outbreak spirals in the neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Uganda and DRC have resolved to increase cross-border surveillance on both sides of their borders.
This was the consensus during a cross-border meeting among health officials from the two countries, held at Kasindi- Lubiriha immigrations office, in DRC.
One of the ways suggested to improve cross-border surveillance is to harmonize the data collection tools to ensure that similar information is captured at the screening points along the Uganda-DRC border in both countries.
The officials also highlighted the need to map out all the points of entry along the border to ensure that no border entry point lacks a screening point.
During the meeting, there was concern over the ignorance about the EVD outbreak by some people coming to Uganda from DRC. To mitigate this, the participants agreed to intensify risk communication and community engagement on the DRC side to address the issue of misconceptions, rumours, and myths on Ebola, particularly at the Kasindi-Lubiriha border area.
The Uganda team also shared experiences about the functionality of the different pillars in the EVD preparedness response. From that, the DRC team particularly appreciated the use of Village Health Teams to conduct risk communication and community engagement. They also welcomed the community-based disease surveillance approach, promising to apply it in the DRC context.
The meeting was attended by teams from both countries including health, security, immigration, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Uganda Red Cross.
Until December 3, 2018, a total of 440 cases had been registered in DRC. Out of these 392 are confirmed while 48 are probable. The total number of deaths stood at 255 deaths and 97 suspect cases were under investigation.
Despite having no confirmed case of EVD, Uganda remains on high alert and is implementing a series of activities to ensure preparedness.
These activities include border screening, community based and health facility surveillance, coordination of activities, collection, and testing of blood samples from alert cases and capacity building for Infection, Prevention, and control.
Other activities include clinical management, psycho-social care for safe and dignified burials, risk communication, community engagement, and cross-border surveillance.