Kasese on high alert after Ebola outbreak in neighbouring DRC

Health Ministry confirms new Ebola case in Kasese
An Ebola health worker carries a child at a hospital in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, home to the second-largest outbreak of the virus ever recorded. Photo Credit: Goran Tomasevic/Reuters

Kasese, Uganda | URN | Health authorities and local leaders in Kasese district in Western Uganda have cautioned residents, particularly those living closer to the border areas over the outbreak of Ebola in the neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

Last week, the regional office for Africa of the World Health Organization-WHO, said one new case of Ebola was confirmed in Beni Health Zone in the North Kivu Province and 160 contacts of the confirmed case have been identified for close monitoring of their health.

The epicenter of the current Ebola outbreak is close to Uganda’s border to the West. Patrick Bikansobera, the surveillance focal person for the lake region in Kasese, says the disease can easily spread to the districts neighboring DRC due to cross-border movements. He called for the screening of all persons crossing into Uganda from DRC.

Bikansobera also encourages the community to report any suspected case to the nearest Village Health Teams or local leaders.  He says they have established a “rumor” log book where all suspected cases are reported by the community members, recorded and a medical team dispatched to follow up and verify.

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Kasese District Health Officer-DHO Dr. Yusuf Baseka says the community needs to be extra vigilant when they cross to DRC. He, however, says that screening for all other epidemics has been routine along the border points, which gives the district a better chance to respond to any alert.

Kasese LC V Chairperson, Eliphazi Muhindi, says a task force is in place to deal with any case and raise awareness among the community. In March, this year, health facilities neighboring the Mpondwe-Lubhiriha border point with DRC received support from Baylor-Uganda to timely detect and respond to epidemic outbreaks.

Baylor donated a temporary shelter to host the screening services at Mpondwe border point following the destruction of the old facility when a spirit truck burst into flames in February.