The World Health Organization and Ugandan authorities are seeking nearly $18 million to help contain the Ebola outbreak in the country over the next three months. The initiative comes as Uganda records the death of the first health worker in the current Ebola outbreak and brings the total number of confirmed cases to 35, with seven deaths.
The death of the first medical worker in the current outbreak was revealed by Dr Jane Ruth Aceng, Uganda’s Minister of Health, as she spoke to the media after a high-level closed meeting hosted by the WHO in Kampala.
On Thursday, the ministry announced that six health workers had been confirmed carriers of the Ebola Sudan strain and two others were in critical condition.
The deceased health worker, a Tanzanian national, was transferred to an isolation facility at a nearby district hospital in Fort Portal in Mubende district, where he had treated the first case of Ebola.
Due to what Aceng called certain errors, more health workers were exposed to Ebola.
“Today we have 35 confirmed cases. And we unfortunately lost seven people. And one of them is a doctor,” Aceng said. “It is true that we have 65 health workers who have been exposed. Now all of those 65 health workers are in quarantine. »
The current strain of Ebola Sudan has so far affected four districts in Uganda including Mubende, with the epicenter in Madudu sub-county, Kyegwegwa, Kassanda and now Kagadi district.
Aceng revealed the main commonality with the four affected districts.
“People from Madudu are running to these neighborhoods because they thought there was witchcraft in Madudu,” she said. “And they were running away either to find a safe haven or to reach out to loved ones to help them…treat what for them was a strange disease that they didn’t understand. However, with the various interventions we had, the people of Madudu now understood that it was Ebola and not witchcraft.
Regardless of how the spread of the Ebola Sudan strain will evolve, there is still no vaccine. Health officials in Uganda, including those from the WHO, are mobilizing and seeking funds to control the outbreak.
Dr Yonas Tegegn Woldermariam, the WHO representative in Uganda, said he was concerned that the requested money would not cover all the costs.
“If we go into preparation, we’re talking, even for the three months, three times or four times that amount,” he said. “Also, there are things we take for granted, assuming the system will deliver. These are additional costs like transportation, like fuel, like human resources, that we have to look at funding as well as we move forward.
Sudan Ebola virus is less common than Zaire Ebola virus and there is currently no effective vaccine. Sudan Ebola virus was first reported in southern Sudan in 1976. Although several outbreaks have since been reported in Uganda and Sudan, the deadliest outbreak in Uganda occurred in 2000, making more than 200 dead.
The last Ebola outbreak in Uganda, in 2019, was confirmed to be Zaire Ebola virus. It last reported an Ebolavirus outbreak in Sudan in 2012.