KAMPALA – Red Cross teams are on high alert following the confirmation of the first Ebola case in Uganda.
According to the Ministry of Health, a five-year-old boy from Uganda returned from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) on 10 June. The child presented with Ebola symptoms and was transferred to an Ebola treatment unit in Bwera.
Robert Kwesiga, Uganda Red Cross Secretary General, said:
“This is a worrying development, but we have been preparing for this day for months now. We have been scaling up our efforts, in close coordination with government and other actors to help communities prepare for Ebola, and to contain its spread.”
The Uganda border is close to the epicenter of the DR Congo outbreak, which is now the second largest Ebola outbreak ever recorded.
Uganda Red Cross, with support from the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), has trained hundreds of community-based volunteers in anticipation of the potential spread of Ebola. Volunteers have been trained in Ebola screening, as well as in risk communication and community engagement, community-based surveillance, and psychosocial support.
In addition, Red Cross has procured equipment for safe and dignified burials and has provided training and technical support to the Ministry of Health which will lead to the delivery of safe and dignified burials in Uganda.
Andreas Sandin, IFRC Operations Coordinator, said:
“We are ready to adapt and expand our support, but we must take stock of the lessons we have learned from the response in DR Congo.
“Epidemics and pandemics start and end in the communities – we need to ensure this remains a community-led response to ensure we prevent Ebola’s further spread.”
IFRC is also supporting the National Red Cross Societies of Burundi, Rwanda, and South Sudan to prepare for the potential spread of Ebola into their countries.