Govt needs to pay special attention to Ebola in schools

Pupils at St Kizito Madudu Primary School in Mubende District wash hands on October 17, 2022. PHOTO | DAN WANDERA

What you need to know:

The issue: 
Ebola in schools. 

Our view:  
Unless we curb the spread of Ebola in schools, we could set off the time bomb we are sitting on.

Early this week, the Minister of Health, Dr Jane Ruth Aceng, confirmed that six children from three schools in Rubaga Division, Kampala, had contacted the Ebola Virus Disease.
According to the minister, the children, including a Primary Seven candidate, contracted Ebola from their sick relative who came from Kassanda District and later died at Mulago hospital. The children are currently receiving supportive treatment at an Ebola treatment unit in Entebbe.
The confirmation of Ebola infections among school children from three city schools caused panic among some sections of the population. Some experts called for an Ebola-induced lockdown for Kampala to contain the spread of the disease.

This was probably because they knew how this deadly viral disease could easily spread from one learner to another given the bee hive of activities that happen in schools.
Schools especially pose an Ebola threat due to the daily interactions that happen between learners and teachers.  It is easy for learners participating in games to get into contact with their peers’ body fluids such as sweat, saliva and even blood in case of an accident. Experts say getting into contact with the body fluids of an infected person or animal is the way through which Ebola can be transmitted.

Besides, learners from different homes and dormitories do not only share desks, plates, cups, toilets/latrines, bathrooms, and textbooks, but also share decker beds in poorly spaced dormitories. It is common for learners who sleep on the top decker to utilise the one at the bottom. They can either spread or contracted Ebola from the beddings in case one of the learners in this network has Ebola. 
Although the ministries of Health and Education have set clear guidelines on what schools should do to protect learners from the Ebola virus, many of them are struggling to procure adequate sanitisers, soap, temperature guns among other requirements, given the high population.

Some schools have had the opportunity to own at least one temperature gun, but it is quite tiresome to measure the temperature of hundreds of learners who are rushing to class. 
Whereas is it very important for government to always remind schools to adhere to standard operating procedure (SOPs), the struggling schools should be consistently availed with resources to effectively serve huge populations in schools.

In addition, the school community needs continuous sensation on how Ebola is transmitted and how to prevent it.  The inspectors of schools should continuously monitor the schools to ensure that they adhere to the SOPs and that necessary resources are available. 
Unless we curb the spread of Ebola in schools, we could set off the time bomb we are sitting on.