Sembabule, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Sembabule district local government has requested sh1.02 billion from the Ministry of Health for Ebola preparedness and response plan.
Malik Mahaba, the Sembabule District Chief Administrative Officer says that the money will be used to fully operationalize the District Ebola Taskforce and Rapid Response Team; which are required in the coordination of case management and infection control in the area.
According to Mahaba, the draft budget which has already been submitted to the Ministry of Health for consideration was drafted by the District Ebola Taskforce, after deliberations by the different stakeholders on how they can boost their local capacities and response mechanisms to handle the apparent health risk.
Sembabule district directly borders Mubende; one of the two districts that were on Saturday put under a 21-days lockdown after it was declared to be the epicenter for Ebola.
Mahaba says given its geographical location next to Mubende district and direct routes connecting the two districts, Sembabule is equally under Ebola threat which requires them to make enough response preparation in case of any eventualities.
He explains that the money is needed to coordinate surveillance and monitoring activities, carry out risk communication and community engagements, the establishment of an isolation center for suspects, and timely respond to community alerts among other activities.
Dr. Charles Ssali, the Sembabule District Health Officer observes there is an urgent need to heighten the vigilance of their task forces and community members such that the technical teams can promptly respond to the situation whenever the need arises.
According to Ssali, despite the restrictions on the movements of people into and out of Mubende, they are afraid that some people may stealthily sneak out and enter Sembabule; presenting risks for the spread of the Ebola hemorrhagic virus in the community hence the need for advanced preparations.
Dr. Ssali says that for instance, they want to remodel the partition of one of the rooms at Sembabule Health IV and dedicate it to isolation and monitoring of any suspects before they are transferred to the designated treatment center.
He indicates that even before receiving the required funding, their surveillance teams are already activated and have recently responded to seven community alerts, which apparently turned out to be health complications that arose from the consumption of animal carcasses.
In the approved 2022/23 financial year budget, out of a total of 38.17 billion shillings Sembabule district allocated 6.99 billion shillings to the entire health sector, of which 3.25 billion was earmarked for recurrent expenditures such as staff wages.
The district budgeted for only 17.04 million shillings for responding to emergencies.
Patrick Nkalubo, the Sembabule L.CV Chairperson argues that the district lacks the financial muscle to respond to such emergency situation hence their reliance on the central government in case the need arises.