SURVIVING SUDAN EBOLA VIRUS IN KASSANDA, HOW HEALTH WORKERS KEPT ALERT

SURVIVING SUDAN EBOLA VIRUS IN KASSANDA, HOW HEALTH WORKERS KEPT ALERT

By Goodluck Musinguzi

Health workers in the Kassanda district in Uganda were at the forefront of responding to another serious infectious disease called the Sudan Ebola Virus. Dr Diana Atwine, Permanent Secretary Ministry of Health declared an Ebola outbreak, caused by the Sudan species of the virus.

Dr Jane Ruth Aceng and Dr Diana Atwine led the senior management to beef up the weak health system in the Kassanda district.  When development partners visited they were impressed by the commitment & compassion of the healthcare workers & Village Health Teams met. Their hard work means there are survivors of this deadly disease! An effective ebola response requires partnerships among the government, CSOs and partners. 

But, Gloria not her real name, a Midwife who contracted Ebola in the course of her duty and miraculously survived, decided to continue with her work until the 69 days ended when Uganda was cleared of the Sudan Ebola Virus. “I will continue to love and serve”, she vowed as she was introduced as one of the survivors of Ebola.

In a sombre mood, with tears flowing freely, Gloria narrated how she unknowingly contracted Ebola while helping a mother in labour. “I came in contact with her blood which is common in my work, but after one week, I fell sick with symptoms of Ebola”, she narrated.

 

What Did Health Workers in Uganda Need to End the Current Ebola Outbreak?

COVID-19 has magnified how critical health workers are for emergency response and global health security. They identified people infected with Ebola, ensure they are isolated and provided early treatment to save as many lives as possible.

The outbreak was declared on September 20 in Mubende District, and the virus was detected in seven other districts, including in Kampala, the bustling capital city. According to the update from the Ministry of Health  Eighteen health workers contracted Ebola—while they were providing care to sick patients. Six health workers have died.

The government conducted mass communications campaigns aimed at the public and at health workers. For example, posters and announcements with info about Ebola have been shared on social media, radio, and television with a clear message to immediately report any suspected cases.


 

Posters shared by the Ministry of Health on social media.

The government putKassanda District as one of the epicentres of the outbreak–on lockdown, and this increased military presence to reinforce rules. The government set up Ebola treatment centres in Mubende and Kampala and is working to deploy former emergency COVID-19 responders to these centres.

The Minister of Health Jane Ruth Aceng has recognized health workers’ selfless service and hard work and stressed they need to wear appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) and ensure infection prevention and control measures. But I think health workers need more.

Health workers need to know they will be cared for. When COVID-19 hit Uganda, a huge challenge was not having enough PPE for health workers. With ebola the biggest challenge is health workers are afraid of dying from a lack of quality specialized care if they contract Ebola.

Health workers need to counter the distrust and misinformation that grew during COVID-19. Uganda’s national incident manager for Ebola, Henry Kyobe Bosa, said that health workers here have the huge burden of rebuilding trust—a challenge that can feel immense.

In a sombre mood, with tears flowing freely, Gloria narrated how she unknowingly contracted Ebola while helping a mother in labour. “I came in contact with her blood which is common in my work, but after one week, I fell sick with symptoms of Ebola”, she narrated.

Her condition deteriorated and she was eventually transferred to Fort portal Referral Hospital in Kabalore for advanced care. Luckily, the country’s disease surveillance system had picked up leads of hemorrhagic fever outbreak.  Gloria was thus handled with extreme care in transportation and on arrival in the Fort portal.

Patients were only given supportive care and treatment according to the most evident signs and symptoms. That is exactly what Gloria received at Fort portal as she embarked on a slow, painful recovery process.

The survivors are gathering the courage to tell the stories of how they survived.

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2 comments

  1. Our great thanks goes to the Ps , the minister of health and the entire health worker’s

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