Focus on malaria, Covid-19 fight now
What you need to know:
- The Ministry of Health will continue focusing on building the capacity through its sustainability plan where emphasis will be on research interventions, prevention through continuous public awareness and the Tokomesa Clinical trials for the Ebola Sudan Vaccine.
Uganda was recently declared free of the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) outbreak by the World Health Organisation (WHO). In less than four months, the Ebola outbreak was contained. This would not have been possible without the frontline health workers and the Ministry of Health leadership and government led by President Yoweri Museveni.
This achievement is no meagre feat as it involved sleepless nights, hard work, long weeks without interacting with family members and loved ones. This was also supported by strong partner coordination and collaboration efforts, intensified risk communication and community engagement. We also initiated movement restrictions in the epicentre districts of Mubende and Kasanda.
For instance, some contacts of confirmed Ebola cases had started taking advantage of the improvements in mobility and connectivity to move to other parts of the country as a way of evading a follow-up. Myths and misconceptions around witchcraft and religious beliefs also affected the early response interventions with some of the infected persons seeking treatment from traditional healers.
However, the risk communication efforts led by the Ministry of Health saw orientation of traditional healers on the importance of referring their clients to the designated Ebola Treatment Units (ETU) that had been established in Mubende, Kasanda, Kampala and Entebbe.
I wish to extend special appreciation to all stakeholders who played an integral role in the construction of these ETU and all the other partners who supported availability of human resources and enhancement of Infection Prevention Control (IPC) measures.
Additionally, the Community Health Department of the ministry ensured that all suspected, probable and confirmed deaths were accorded safe and dignified burials. Save for one incident where one family risked and exhumed a body, which resulted in more infections and death.
The Ministry of Health will continue focusing on building the capacity through its sustainability plan where emphasis will be on research interventions, prevention through continuous public awareness and the Tokomesa Clinical trials for the Ebola Sudan Vaccine.
Currently, the team of scientists are reviewing the protocols on the eligibility criteria for more than 5,000 doses of the Ebola Candidate Vaccine. With the war on Ebola successfully fought, the Ministry of Health is not resting. Response efforts are now in full gear to ensure that the current malaria upsurge and Covid-19 infections are kept at bay.
Much as the Covid-19 positivity rate remains minimal, the country still registers some positive cases. For example, during the week of January 8 to 14, the country registered about 49 cases with zero deaths and zero admissions. With the threat of new Covid-19 variants emerging, there is a need to improve the vaccination coverage among the population that is 12 years and above to avoid severe disease and hospitalisation.
As of January 3, the vaccination statistics from the Uganda National Expanded Programme on Immunisation (UNEPI) indicate that 19.2 million people, representing 43 percent of the total population, are vaccinated with the first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine. While about 6.6 people, representing 15 percent, have received two doses.Those who have received booster doses stand at 463, 494.
It is, therefore, upon this background that I call upon the general population to heed the presidential directives by ensuring that they are up-to-date with their Covid-19 vaccination status. The elderly and vulnerable are advised to take booster shots at least every six months. The Covid-19 vaccination has been incorporated into the routine vaccination schedule. The vaccines currently available include Sinopharm, Sinovac, Johnson and Johnson and Pfizer, which is also used for those aged between 12 and 17 years.
Malaria remains the leading cause of mortality and morbidity in Uganda. Therefore, with this current surge in the number of cases, every individual needs to take responsibility and embrace the preventive measures by sleeping under mosquito nets, clearing bushes and stagnant water around homesteads, and seeking treatment early enough.
Mr Ainebyoona is the Senior Public Relations Officer, Ministry of Health.