An Ebola epidemic in the DRC has pushed the Ugandan authorities to consider what was unthinkable: the vaccination of all people at risk.
It was upset last week with about 250 confirmed cases of Ebola – causing about 180 deaths in Congo, the Uganda Department of Health announced the onset of Ebola vaccination. About 2,000 healthcare workers and first-line workers along our border with the PRC will receive the experimental vaccine.
Uganda has no confirmed cases of Ebola, but in view of the new ominous threat from the Democratic Republic of Congo, the precautionary measure is welcome given the large cross-border traffic.
The ring vaccination guide, which is a "new and vital tool in controlling Ebola", highlights how seriously the authorities are taking the continuing threat of Ebola in Congo and the dangers it poses to Uganda.
According to official statistics, more than 20,000 people cross daily from the DRC to Uganda. This density of people increases the risk of cross-border transmission of Ebola.
Vaccination, a first of its kind in Uganda, offers hope and a practical solution to the recurrent threat of the Ebola outbreaks in Congo.
This vaccination is a bold break from years of accidental treatment of the threats of Ebola, which usually eliminate panic, confusion and fingers.
In the past, news about an Ebola outbreak in the DRC of Congo would be tackled with a wait-and-see approach from the authorities here as a panic launched to the general public.
Usually, without strong interventions, viral illness will rapidly shift to our western border with the Congo and overcome the slow response from the Ugandan authorities, leaving many soul losses in its path.
With joy, Kampala, working with global partners, has adopted a viable mechanism of rapid response to hemorrhagic fevers, including the equally ugly Marburg.
In a statement last week, the ministry said the active search for suspected cases continued in all communities, and that alert cases are still being collected, isolated, treated, and blood samples transmitted for examination at the IGA Research Institute.
Training for infection prevention and control (IPC) took place in all vulnerable areas of Kabarole, Bunyangabu, Kasese, Bundibugyo and Ntoroko. Case management and surveillance cases have finally been conducted in seven areas, including Wakiso and Kampala.
As we have said in previous publications, this response is very commendable and demonstrates that we have learned hard lessons from past mistakes in handling governmental disease outbreaks, in particular the 2014-16 epidemic, which has caused a heavy tax in West Africa, hundreds of workers in the healthcare sector.
A proactive approach, always, will help reduce the threat of Ebola.