Published: Fri, November 09, 2018
Medicine | By Tracy Klein

Uganda vaccinates at-risk health workers as Ebola spreads in Congo

Uganda vaccinates at-risk health workers as Ebola spreads in Congo

The Ebola outbreak in conflict-ridden Congo has become so serious that worldwide public health experts need to consider the possibility that it can not be brought under control and instead will become entrenched, Centres for Disease Control and Prevention Director Robert Redfield says.

It was learned from authorities that about 26,000 people in the central African country have meanwhile received a vaccine to prevent Ebola.

In recent months Ebola cases have been confirmed near the heavily traveled border between Uganda and Congo, where 270 cases have been reported in the country's northeast since August.

The ministry of health has said teams responding to the Ebola outbreak are attacked three or four times a week on average - a level of violence unseen in the country's nine previous outbreaks of the virus.

Anthony Mbonye, a professor of health sciences at Uganda's Makerere University, said the vaccinations are crucial to stemming transmission "in a highly endemic belt for hemorrhagic fevers". It is the first time the vaccine has been offered before an Ebola outbreak even starts.

The ongoing Uganda vaccinations targeting frontline health workers will be carried out in five districts along the border with Congo. It will be administered only to around 2000 first contact health care workers who are working near the borders of DRC in the north Kivu province says the WHO and would not be available for the general public. The problem is that the security environment has worsened."He added that the continuing actions of armed groups "calls for a stronger closely coordinated response, and we are working in a very coordinated manner with the Congolese security forces, but the adversary is a more hard adversary that knows the ground that is blending into the population". It's caused 151 death so far, the World Health Organization said.

The UMoH said in a press release that the Ebola vaccination program will be expanded to the 5 high-risk districts: Bundibugyo, Kabarole, Kasese, Ntoroko, and Bunyangabu bordering the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

In Congo, where thousands of people have been given the experimental Ebola vaccine, a worrying number of vaccinated health workers have been infected.

A World Health Organization assessment of the situation in DRC released on 22 October, warned of the potential for the virus to spread into Rwanda, South Sudan and Burundi, as well as Uganda, and called on these countries to step up readiness efforts.

For Congolese health workers, combating the virus has proved a challenge in a densely populated region that is roamed by armed groups.

Ebola first appeared in 1976 in Sudan and Congo, and gets its name from a river in the latter nation.

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