Doctors’ body in push to save health workers

Dr Matthew Lukwiya

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"During epidemic outbreaks, it is always health workers at the frontline and it is very absurd that EVD outbreak is coming at a time when health personnel have not received their last month’s salary. How can they fight the outbreak whole-heartedly with such a demotivation?,” Dr Samuel Oledo, president, Uganda Medical Association.

Health workers have been advised to be alert and highly suspicious when handling patients presenting with Ebola Virus Disease (EVD)-like symptoms following the Tuesday confirmation of the outbreak of the Sudan strain in the country.
Dr Samuel Oledo, the president of Uganda Medical Association (UMA), said yesterday that health workers should take necessary precautionary measures to prevent infection of themselves and their families. 

He disclosed that they are due to sensitise all health workers in Mubende, the district of the outbreak, on the standard operating procedures in handling Ebola cases that the Ministry of Health released yesterday.
“… we are at the disaster management protocol stage and we are ensuring the working environment is free from the virus, case tracing and surveillance of all contacts are ongoing … we advise [health workers] to handle every suspected case with high suspicion until proved otherwise,” he said.
There are isolation centres for medics in place, he said, and those who handled the index Ebola case, have been quarantined to stem possible transmissions. 

Dr Oledo said health workers have been cautioned to minimize travel to and within Mubende.
The president of the association that brings together all doctors in the country yesterday raised concern that the outbreak of the viral disease may find health workers, who have not been paid their August salary, demoralised, thereby undermining response efforts.

Health Minister Dr Jane Ruth Aceng (left) supervises the launch of Ebola vaccination exercise for UPDF soldiers at Muhooti Barracks in Fort Portal on August 30. PHOTO/ ALEX ASHABA

Scientists across the country erupted in wild celebrations after the government made good on its promise to enhance their remuneration, resulting in some salaries being doubled effective July 1, but the happiness turned short-lived after failure to remit pay for August.

The government has explained that it currently does not have money to clear the fatter salaries, but will do so in future.
He proposed vaccination of health workers involved in fighting the outbreak, but the Ministry of Health already announced that Ebola vaccines available work for Zaire, not the Sudan variant discovered in Mubende.
Medical responses to Ebola incidents in Uganda, the current one being the fifth, have in the past led to nurses and doctors, prominent among them being Dr Matthew Lukwiya in Gulu and Dr Jonah Kule in Bundibugyo, getting infected and dying in the line of duty. 


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