Covid-19 testing kits

The British Government recently released a grant of GBP 1.322 million (Shs6.11 billion) to support various aspects of Uganda’s fight against COVID-19. Activities funded by the UK grant are being implemented by two United Nations agencies, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the International Organization for Migration (IOM).

WHO and IOM are using their respective expertise to help “strengthen and maintain the capacity of the health sector to prevent, prepare for, detect and respond to the COVID-19 outbreak” over a seven-month period.

As the lead implementing agency, WHO will strengthen coordination of COVID-19 preparedness and response activities at national and sub-national level, and surveillance, detection, laboratory confirmation of cases and reporting system for prompt containment of cases.

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IOM, meanwhile, will work at border crossing points to ‘prevent and protect against the importation of COVID-19 and provide a public health response at Points of Entry’.

Since March, the government, with technical support from WHO and other UN agencies, has run an internationally acclaimed COVID-19 response, including testing and treatment, contact tracing, quarantining, and public education. DFID has extended support to WHO and IOM to support the national, regional and district response to COVID-19, including in 10 high-risk districts to functionalise the task forces and implement the national contingency plan. These districts are Mbale, Tororo, Mubende, Masaka, Kabale, Wakiso, Iganga, Busia, Kisoro (Kyanika) and Adjumani.

Project activities will include: Recruitment of staff at national, regional and district level to facilitate coordination; Support functionality of the national and district taskforces in high risk and affected areas; orientation of district officials on the Incident management system; Orientation of surveillance teams; Supporting follow-up of contacts of the confirmed cases; sample collection, transportation and analysis at designated laboratories; and procurement of laboratory supplies and testing kits.

Other activities will include; Support supervision and monitoring of screening at PoEs in areas that are likely to be affected by central and district teams; equipment and supplies to support airport/PoE screening; as well as training of border/port health staff (immigration, revenue) on standard operating procedures of infection prevention and control.

The WHO Representative to Uganda, Dr Yonas Tegegn Woldemariam said, “This is a multi-faceted, multi-level intervention that should help strengthen the country’s response. For instance, the project will support an epidemiologist attached to the Incident manager to support the functionality of the preparedness and response mechanism. And specialists will be deployed at regional hubs to provide technical assistance and oversight to build the capacity of the health system and referral network to respond to the outbreak.”

Speaking about the project, IOM Uganda Chief of Mission Mr. Sanusi Tejan Savage said: “As the UN Migration Agency, with increasing mobility we are particularly concerned about mitigating risk of COVID-19 transmission at the border we are pleased to team up with WHO to improve the resilience at our Points of entry to mitigate that risk.”

As of 06 October 2020, Uganda’s cumulative confirmed cases of COVID-19 was 9,260, with 5,588 recoveries and 84 deaths.

Currently, there is a surge in the number of cases identified because of increasing community transmission. While the initial majority cases were registered in the mobility continuum specifically from the transnational truck drivers several measures were instituted to mitigate the spread.

Consequently, Uganda has successfully initialised containment of the spread of COVID-19, with most cases currently identified from the community.