The Ministry of Health and health development partners in Uganda, including the World Health Organization (WHO), have launched the country’s Ebola response plan at the Sheraton Hotel in Kampala, highlighting planned activities, priority needs and gaps.
Bringing together the country’s health diplomatic corps, the high-level meeting discussed the current status of the outbreak, the country’s preparedness to respond and contain the outbreak, and outlined the priorities and needs of the Ebola response as outlined in the national response plan.
“The national response plan we have presented today will serve as a blueprint for all partners, donors, and stakeholders to engage and contribute to the detection, response, and immediate containment of the Ebola outbreak in Uganda,” said Dr. Jane Ruth Aceng Acero, Uganda’s Minister of Health.
Dr. Aceng explained that the plan was developed in line with the guidance provided in the Emergency Preparedness and Response Standard, to develop core capacity to prevent, detect and respond to public health emergencies, building on country experience and current best practices.
“The increase in the number of Ebola cases in the country is of concern. Increased resources and sustained and coordinated actions among all stakeholders are essential to fight this pandemic. I call on all health development partners to mobilize additional resources to help Uganda fight this epidemic.” Dr Yonas Tegegn Woldemariam, WHO Representative to Uganda.
Since the Ebola outbreak was declared by Ugandan health authorities on 20 September 2022, the country has so far recorded 31 cumulative confirmed cases and 6 deaths, with a case fatality rate of 19.4% as of 28 September 2022.
In response to the outbreak, the country has taken immediate measures at both national and sub-national levels to strengthen all pillars of the response. The country activated the incident management system and the National Multi-Stakeholder Task Force (NTF) chaired by the Ministry of Health and co-chaired by WHO to effectively coordinate the response.
The NTF enabled the immediate mobilization and deployment of technical, financial, and operational resources to the affected districts, including Mubende, Kassanda, and Kyegegwa.
With support from its health partners, including the United Nations System, Uganda activated District Task Forces (DTFs) in ten high-risk districts, trained and deployed Rapid Response Teams (RRTs) and Village Health Teams (VHTs), and provided the Mubende Regional Referral Hospital with infection prevention and control equipment, including three Ebola kits capable of handling more than 300 Ebola patients.
“The efforts made so far are important but need to be intensified if we are to end this pandemic today. I count on each of you to mobilise more resources in your respective capacities to end the Ebola pandemic in our country,” Dr Jane Aceng added.
There have been seven previous outbreaks of the Sudan ebolavirus, with four occurring in Uganda and three in Sudan. Uganda last reported an outbreak of Sudan ebolavirus in 2012. In 2019, the country experienced an outbreak of Zaire ebolavirus. The virus was imported from the neighboring Democratic Republic of the Congo which was battling a large epidemic in its northeastern region.
There are at least six candidate vaccines against Sudan ebolavirus which are in different stages of development. Three of them have Phase1 data (safety and immunogenicity data in humans) and the remaining are in the preclinical evaluation phase.