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Poor funding affecting Uganda’s Ebola preparedness plan

FILE PHOTO: Screening at the Uganda-DRC border has been stepped up.

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The shortage of funds is affecting Uganda’s Ebola preparedness plan, according to the World Health Organization.

Uganda was classified as a priority one country, as a result of its proximity to the area of DRC that is most affected by the latest Ebola outbreak, alongside Rwanda, South Sudan, and Burundi.

Uganda’s Ebola preparedness budget released in July 2019, stood at 64 billion Shillings, a bigger percentage of which was allocated to case management and infection control. Other components of the plan include building community resilience and institutional capacity to respond to an outbreak, to prevent the importation of Ebola into Uganda, and to prepare for a possible outbreak.

However, the World Health Organisation says that Uganda’s Ebola purse currently has less than half of the required total budget. This, according to health experts, is putting Ugandan’s at the risk of contracting the deadly disease which has devastated the Democratic Republic of Congo for more than one year.

As of July, 20, Uganda had contributed 1 billion Shillings to the preparedness plan, to go towards strengthening security at all border crossings, especially porous borders in twenty districts which are at a high risk of cross border importation of Ebola.

The 20 districts are Ntoroko, Kasese, Kabarole, Bundibugyo, Bunyangabu, Kanungu, Kisoro, Rukungiri, Rubirizi, Kikuube, Kamwenge, Kyegegwa, Kyenjojo, Isingiro, Buliisa, Hoima, Kagadi, Pakwach, Kampala, and Wakiso.

But it has been reported that there are no preparedness measures going on in some of the high-risk districts in West Nile, some of which share a common border with the Democratic Republic of Congo.

WHO country representative Dr Yonas T Woldermariam says that the shortage of funding is disturbing.

Dr Woldermariam is optimistic that all partners will be able to fulfill their pledges because the demand for resources is increasing.

Health Minister Jane Ruth Aceng said the first phase of the funding was fully required, but could not divulge details on the second phase until she gets a brief from the technical team.

Dr Monica Musenero, an epidemiologist who has treated people in both the Ugandan and West African Ebola outbreaks says that Ebola is a global problem and should be treated as such.

“Ebola is a global problem. It is not only in DRC. Someone from DRC can easily travel to any country. The global community should get involved in what is happening in DRC because as long as Ebola is circulating in the DRC, nobody on the planet is safe.”

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