WHO boss lashes out at leaders over Ebola cases

Photo taken October 27, 2022 shows people disinfecting shoes in Mubende, Uganda. PHOTO/AFP

What you need to know:

  • Dr Yonas Tegegn Woldemariam calls for teamwork among leaders in the fight against Ebola.

The World Health Organisation representative to Uganda, Dr Yonas Tegegn Woldemariam, on Saturday questioned politicians over failure to work together to contain the spread of Ebola.

This followed a surge in Ebola cases registered in Kampala Metropolitan Area amid alleged squabbles among some members subscribing to different political parties.

According to the Ministry of Health, Ebola cases in Kampala and Wakiso have shot up from 15 to 17 in a week. The cases are in Makindye, Rubaga, Kawempe in Kampala City and Nansana and Busiro in Wakiso District.  More than half of the cases are from Rubaga Division.

While speaking to leaders at a meeting convened by the Ministry of Health in partnership with WHO and United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund (Unicef) in Kampala, Dr Yonas warned that the country would be doomed if politicians continued to focus on their political differences.

He said all leaders with or without allowances must be in position to mobilise communities to accept and adhere to health interventions, intended to contain the spread of Ebola.

“Do you want your children to remind you  that Ebola killed 100 people when you were a leader? I’m sorry if this happens. Think of the number of people who will die, the number of people who will get sick, how the economy is going to be affected. It is an issue of real life,” Dr Yonas told the leaders from Kampala, Wakiso and Mukono.

“Do your part to support this response. Mobilise and motivate communities to go to hospitals if they present any Ebola-like symptoms, avoid interacting with others, including their family members, call toll free lines for help and encourage them to observe the Standard Operating Procedures. Unless we do that, the next generation will blame us for failing ,”he added.

He said if the responsible people neglect the fight against Ebola and Kampala is locked down, it would take Uganda’s economy 10 to 15 years backwards.

Dr Yonas revealed that in West Africa, economies shut down because of Ebola. “This is one of the most sensitive and fragile viruses. You must find effective ways of engaging people. We have a lot to do amid limited resources. We are committed to supporting,” he said.

Dr Yonas also called for inclusion of the traditional and religious leaders in the fight against Ebola.
Health minister Jane Ruth Aceng asked leaders to design and share their response plans, stating real issues, not allowances.

“Ebola is in Kampala Metropolitan Area. What we need from you is maximum cooperation. We should ensure that the economy is not affected. Now that development partners are ready to support us, let us use this opportunity and say the right things and mobilise people and encourage them to adhere to SOPs and make sure that they stay safe,” she said.

The permanent secretary in the Ministry of Health, Dr Diana Atwine, said government would provide allowances to people who will be directly involved in the transportation and treatment of Ebola cases.
The mayor for Kawempe Division, Mr Emmanuel Sserunjogi, said city divisions have their unique challenges and that their response plans should be treated as district plans.