UMA asks health workers without protective gear to stay home

The President of Uganda Medical Association, Mr Samuel Oledo Odong (c) addresses journalists at Mulago National Referral Hospital on May 19, 2022. PHOTO | FRANK BAGUMA
 

What you need to know:

  • The suspected and confirmed cases have been reported by response teams in Kampala, Kassanda, Kisoro, Mubende, Kakumiro, Lyantonde, and Kyegegwa. 

The leaders of the Uganda Medical Association (UMA) have asked health workers whose employers cannot provide them with appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) to stay home because of the risk of contracting Ebola.

Addressing journalists in Kampala yesterday, Dr Samuel Oledo, the UMA president, said health workers should be calculative during the Ebola response because the government has not compensated their colleagues who died in the line of duty during the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Dr Oledo appealed to the government and operators of private facilities to ensure health workers have a sufficient and uninterrupted supply of PPEs. 

He said a health worker in Mubende, who handled one of the Ebola patients, is experiencing symptoms of the disease but the test results are yet to come out. “We shall not entertain health workers touching patients without PPEs. You have a mandate, a right to stay home. You should not be coerced to work on patients without PPEs,”  Dr Oledo said.

He added: “You should be covered from head to toes. You must have a mask, face shield, goggles, apron, and gumboots and you must have gloves –both surgical and disposal. Ebola is not a joke.”
The shortage of PPEs was one of the major issues during Covid-19, a problem which contributed to the infection and death of health workers. 

The Ebola outbreak in Mubende was triggered by the Sudan Ebola virus whose death risk ranges from 25 percent to 90 percent for infected persons, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO). 
This is several times higher than the case fatality rate of Covid-19 which is at around 3 percent.

However, Dr Henry Kyobe, the Ebola incident commander at the Health ministry, said in a separate interview that they were doing everything possible to ensure there is enough protection for the health workers and the population to minimise spread and deaths.

“We have sufficient amounts of PPE for the health workers. The World Health Organisation deployed Ebola kits but we also have leftover PPEs from Covid-19 response that we are still using,” he said.

The suspected and confirmed cases have been reported by response teams in Kampala, Kassanda, Kisoro, Mubende, Kakumiro, Lyantonde, and Kyegegwa. 

According to the Health ministry, there were 31 confirmed and suspected cases as of Saturday, and the total number of confirmed and suspected Ebola deaths stands at 19.

Dr Alone Nahabwe, the UMA chair of welfare, said it is a demolarising situation for health workers because even the 62 health workers who died in the line of duty during the Covid-19 have not been compensated. 

Mr Emmanuel Ainebyoona, the spokesperson of the Health ministry, said the government was working on the compensation for families of health workers who died during Covid-19. He didn’t give timelines. 

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