KAMPALA – The Minister of Health Dr Jane Ruth Aceng has arrived in Goma, DRC with a delegation from Ministry of health and WHO Uganda to attend the Ministerial Meeting on Cross Border Collaboration to prepare for and respond to the Ebola Virus Disease.
Senior officials on the Minister’s delegation include: Director Curative Services, Dr Charles Olaro, Assistant Commissioner Public Health Emergencies Dr Allan Muruta, Mr Atek Kagirita and Head of Red Cross Uganda Mr. Kwesiga Robert and World Health Organisation-Uganda Representative Dr Yonas Tegegn WOLDEMARIAM.
Dr Aceng has reported the excellent collaboration between health workers in Uganda and DRC has enabled the identification and follow-up of several people suspected to be EVD contacts.
“The colleagues in DRC have alerted us several times about suspected contacts who we have followed and handled appropriately,” she said.
Awareness creation has also contributed tremendously to prevent the spread of EVD within DRC and to other countries. “Awareness creation should continue in all communities so that out people remain alert,” said Dr Aceng.
However, Dr Aceng also proposed two issues which she strongly urged international partners to always adhere to in order to ensure effective and sustainable response not only to EVD but also other disease outbreaks in Africa.
“First always ensure transparency and accountability in all actions and in what you do on the ground. Share what you are doing based on the funds given because it not only helps to avoid duplication of work but also builds donor and community confidence,” she said adding that this will contribute to building strong and resilient health systems in Africa.
Delegates have called for increased investment in community engagement through existing community structures.
This, they have observed, is vital because disease outbreaks primarily occur and affect communities, they are the first points of contact and know the norms and practices that usually drive the spread of infections.
Besides, community resistance, hostility and stigma such as those witnessed in a few instances in DRC can be effectively tackled through community engagement.
The delegates have also looked at disease surveillance in the region and recommended that this be strengthened within the existing health system and community-based structures.
They emphasized the importance of resource mobilization which they agreed should be done transparently focusing on priorities and needs identified by countries in their preparedness and response plans.
The delegates have agreed that cross-border collaboration is critical in disease outbreaks especially because of the inter-linkages and social-economic activities that bring people together. Such consideration, activities and structures should be used to contribute to disease outbreak efforts such as surveillance.
The delegates particularly have noted the critical role of regional economic bodies such as the East Africa Community that can be used to harness political and financial contribution to disease outbreaks right from the highest offices in countries and also facilitate cross-border collaboration.
The meeting is organized by the African Union Commission , Africa CDC, World Health Organisation and DRC Ministry of Health.