Confusion as Ebola figures fail to add up

Health workers at the Ebola isolation centre at Mubende Regional Referral Hospital September 26, 2022. PHOTO | DAN WANDERA

A section of the public has raised concerns over the contradictory statistics on Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) from the government officials and the Health ministry, which signal gaps in coordination and information management.

The Health ministry attributed the confusion to the changing situation of the epidemic and getting information from “wrong sources”.

The Ebola taskforce in Mubende District, according to our reporters, put the number of confirmed and suspected deaths at 22, while a separate update from the Ministry of Health headquarters put it at 23.

In the report from the Health ministry headquarters, the specific areas, where the deaths were reported from, were also not matching with what the taskforce told our reporters.

The two teams from Mubende and the Ministry of Health headquarters also put the total confirmed cases at 16 and 18 respectively, based on separate statistics which our reporters got from both sources.

In Kyegegwa, one of the affected districts, the taskforce on ground told our reporters that the cases are in Bugongo Town Council and not Kasule as was reported by the team at the Health ministry headquarters.

The confirmed case in Kassanda District was in Kalwana, not Kikandwa as reported by the Health ministry team, according to information our reporters received from the taskforce.

Dr Henry Kyobe, the Ebola incident commander, attributed the conflicting results to getting information from wrong sources.

Mr Emmanuel Ainebyoona, the Health ministry spokesperson, reinforced this, saying the update from the headquarters is based on verified information. Mr Ainebyoona also said there are contradictory statistics because the outbreak is dynamic. “The situation keeps evolving,” he said.

However, Mr Ainebyoona said they were adjusting their communication strategies and coordination to address the problem.

“We are going to only announce laboratory-confirmed cases so that we do not confuse the public. Sometimes, the suspected cases turn out negative. We are at the start of the outbreak, so there are things that we shall keep improving,” he said.

Latest statistics from the ministry show that Mubende, Kyegegwa, and Kassanda, as of Monday, had cumulative confirmed Ebola cases at 24 following six new confirmed cases. Cumulative confirmed deaths stand at five.

“A sample has been obtained from the suspected case reported in Kasangati (Wakiso District) and sent to Uganda Virus Research Institute for testing. All suspected cases of Viral Haemorrhagic Fever are accorded a safe and dignified burial,” Mr Ainebyoona said.

He added: “There is no confirmed case of Ebola reported in Kampala. The Ministry of Health has mobilised  all health  workers who previously  worked in handling VHF epidemics to support teams in the affected districts.”

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