Kudos to frontline health workers on Ebola fight

Health workers and a section of the frontline workers at the Ebola isolation facility in Mubende Hospital. PHOTO/DAN WANDERA

What you need to know:

  • We remember Dr Mohammed Ali, the 37-year-old Tanzanian doctor, and the midwife from St Florence Clinic who succumbed to Ebola. And it is in that vein that we appeal to government to improve the working conditions of health workers

On Wednesday evening, the last batch of four patients at the Mubende District Ebola treatment unit received their discharge letters.

While releasing the patients, Dr Paskar Apiyo, a consultant physician attached to Gulu Regional Referral Hospital, but currently heading the Mubende Ebola treatment team, said the discharged patients, including three women and a one-year-old baby, were free to reunite with their families.

According to updates from the Ministry of Health, on Wednesday, November 30, there were no new cases of Ebola, no registered new Ebola-related deaths, and no one on admission. This is a milestone worth celebrating.

The 2022 outbreak -- that was confirmed in Mubende in September and registered 142 cases and 56 deaths – is among the series of Ebola outbreaks the country has faced over the years. The outbreak is the fifth in a series of Ebola outbreaks since the early 2000s that claimed the lives of nurses and doctors, prominent among them being Dr Matthew Lukwiya in Gulu and Dr Jonah Kule in Bundibugyo.

According to Dr Apiyo, the episodes Uganda has handled over the years has helped the health sector prepare better. “With the experience we have attained here in Mubende, I think if there is another Ebola outbreak in Uganda, more people are going to survive. We are going to write what has been here and it will change the story about Ebola,” she says.

It is too early to celebrate victory over Ebola, but the milestone achieved this week is worth rejoicing. On that note, we take this opportunity to thank all health workers that risked their lives to make sure that all Ebola patients are attended to and receive treatment.

We remember Dr Mohammed Ali, the 37-year-old Tanzanian doctor, and the midwife from St Florence Clinic who succumbed to Ebola. And it is in that vein that we appeal to government to improve the working conditions of health workers, especially those dealing with outbreaks.

This year’s Ebola outbreak was confirmed at a time when some health workers had not received their previous month’s salary. We appreciate government’s efforts in increasing the salaries of scientists, but a lot more can still be done.

Frontline health workers, who lose their lives in the line of duty, for instance, should have a special package to help take care of their families when they are gone. It is hypocritical for us to abandon them when their breadwinners died saving our lives.

There is a light at the end of this Ebola tunnel and we have, among the various stakeholders, the frontline health workers to thank. You have saved many Uganda lives.

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