Jane Ruth Aceng the Minister of health has highlighted that the newly launched semi-permanent Ebola Treatment Unit at Mulago will in addition train health workers across the East African region to withstand any pandemic that can happen.
“Right now the facility is open as an Ebola treatment unit, after the 42 days it is to be converted into a training unit with a vision of training health workers from Uganda and across East Africa in preparation of having a system that can withstand any pandemic” Aceng noted.
The Health Minister made these remarks at the launch of the 32 Ebola Treatment Unit that was established at Mulago National Referral Hospital in Kampala on Friday.
This unit that was constructed by Medicine Sanfrontiers puts the total number of treatment units to 7 across the country which makes Uganda the country with the most Ebola treatment units on the continent.
“This is of advantage to us, we have suffered several Ebola outbreaks, it is only important to become more resilient and continue putting systems that manage Ebola in place” Aceng articulated.
The launch of this facility happened a day after Uganda had received 1,200 doses of Ebola Sudan vaccine which scientists are ready to begin the trial soon.
By Friday, Uganda had gone 11 days without recording any new case of Ebola and according to Aceng if the situation doesn’t change, they are likely to announce the country Ebola free with guidance from the World Health Organization on January 11th 2023.
The Lira City woman legislator also used this opportunity to appeal to the general public to continue intensifying information on vigilance and early reporting as the festive season nears.
On issues of paying health workers in Ebola treatment centers, the Ministry clarified that all these have been paid their arrears of September and October when the response started and the only pending are those of November which they are to clear soon.
Dr. Charles Njuguna on behalf of the World Health Organization said that this facility is not an investment that will only benefit Uganda but also other countries across the continent in terms of capacity building.
“This is a big milestone in terms of ensuring that Uganda is ready to manage public health management because this capacity will remain here post Ebola and it will be useful in management of other infectious diseases in future” Njuguna added.
Dr. Wessam Mankoula the head of Africa Center for Disease Control (CDC) mission for Ebola response pledged their continued support to the Health Ministry to control the Ebola epidemic in the country and thanked all the partners who contributed to the construction of this treating unit.
Lisa J. Nelson the country director United States CDC Uganda noted that the current response of the Ebola outbreak has been an excellent example of partnerships and leadership of the Health Ministry and the government.
Lisa also highlighted that she is hopeful the lessons learnt in this outbreak will help the country prepare for other potential outbreaks in the future.
On behalf of the contractors who constructed the facility, Jason Rizzo the Medicine Sanfronteers Emergency Coordinator in Uganda said that because outbreaks often cause traumatic situations that cause a huge impact on individuals, families and the entire country this facility was constructed in a way that it helps patients to overcome the stress and trauma that occurs.
“We now have a facility that will help ensure preparedness for the future, it has a lot of space and it also ensures visibility of patients and health care workers” Jason highlighted.
Ebola struck Uganda in late September 2022 and ever since then 142 cases have been confirmed, 56 patients have died and 86 have been discharged.