Last Wednesday, Uganda declared the end of the Ebola disease outbreak, less than four months after the first case was confirmed in Mubende district on September 20, 2022.
The announcement brought a smile to many faces, including organizations like Amref Health Africa, which worked with its partners to support the fight against the disease that was caused by the Sudan ebolavirus.
Amref Health Africa, through its subsidiary Amref Uganda, joined the campaign against Ebola, through its project dubbed the Hygiene Behavioral Change Coalition (HBCC).
Amref, with funding from the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) and Unilever, is implementing the second phase of HBCC in Wakiso and Kampala to continue increasing awareness of preventive and control measures against Covid-19.
But when Ebola broke out, Amref asked its funders to channel some of the funds to the government of Uganda in battling it.
“We approached our donors to allow us to use part of the resources to integrate messages on Ebola prevention… and we are grateful that our donors allowed us to use part of the resources to do so,” Eng. Mutwalib Walude, project manager of HBCC, said while speaking to this reporter at Amref head offices in Kololo, Kampala.
The funding was used for talk shows, conducting mobile van drives in the aforementioned districts, providing PPEs (Personal Protective Equipment) for frontline health workers (especially VHTs [Village Health Teams]), and working with influencers (religious leaders, digital media, and cultural leaders).
They also did Integrated Home Improvement campaigns in hotspots, according to Eng. Walude.
He said: “With those interventions, we believe were able to stem the spread of Ebola in Kampala and Wakiso.”
Amref Uganda Country Manager Dr. Patrick Kagurusi said announcing Uganda Ebola-free was a great achievement.
“I join everybody in celebrating this moment and also congratulating Ugandans upon successfully ending this outbreak of Ebola,” he said, going on to explain his organization’s mandate.
“Amref Health Africa is a health development organization that works toward a lasting change in healthcare in Africa and for Uganda… and our role in all countries of presence is to strengthen health systems so that they can respond to diseases… so, we do not do this alone, we do it with communities, we do it with partners, with funders, donors, we work with the ministry of health.”
Dr. Kagurusi also thanked partners who made the execution of activities possible.
“I want to thank the ministry of health for the able leadership in fighting this Ebola outbreak, the outbreak of Covid… Ebola came after Covid. The leadership has been excellent. Our donors have been very helpful in giving us funds that we can use. Our teams [including the Amref team] have been excellent in really joining the response… As Amref, we remain committed to supporting communities to respond to such outbreaks,” he said
He encouraged communities to be aware that Covid is still around even when Ebola has gone.
There are also many other diseases that can be dealt with through behavioral change, he said.
The last Ebola case in Uganda was registered on November 30, 2022.
It was the country’s first Sudan ebolavirus outbreak in a decade and its fifth overall for this kind of Ebola. In total there were 164 cases (142 confirmed and 22 probable), 55 confirmed deaths and 87 recovered patients.
More than 4000 people who came in contact with confirmed cases were followed up and their health was monitored for 21 days. Overall, the case-fatality ratio was 47%. The last patient was released from care on November 30 when the 42-day countdown to the end of the outbreak began.