Ministry of health well-prepared for future outbreaks The Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) emergency response to an outbreak of Ebola in Uganda has come to an end. The MSF team has handed over the Ebola treatment centre it set up in Uganda’s western Kibaale district to the Ugandan Ministry of Health. After the outbreak was declared in late July, MSF’s emergency team set up the treatment centre in Kagadi hospital, implementing measures to prevent the disease from spreading, and training Ugandan health staff on caring for patients while minimizing the risks of contagion. The team also gave technical and logistical support to the Ministry of Health, providing psychosocial care to patients, families and health staff, and educating the community about the disease.
As part of a plan to be prepared for future epidemics in Uganda, MSF also restored a treatment unit in Mulago hospital in the capital, Kampala. “Uganda has developed the capacity to respond to Ebola emergencies,” says MSF emergency coordinator Olimpia de la Rosa. “We can rely on the capability of Ministry of Health staff to take over and manage Ebola cases with all safety guarantees.” This latest outbreak of Ebola has claimed 17 lives. After the treatment centre was set up, 69 suspected and five confirmed cases of Ebola were reported. However, there have been no confirmed cases since Aug. 3. An Ebola outbreak is officially considered over once 42 days have passed without any new confirmed cases. The Ebola epidemic appears to have been successfully contained thanks to the combined efforts of the Ugandan Ministry of Health, MSF, the U.S. Center for Disease Control, the Ugandan Red Cross and the World Health Organization. The experience of these organizations in dealing with the recent outbreak is likely to help the response to future outbreaks of Ebola. Ebola hemorrhagic fever is a disease with no treatment or vaccine. It was detected for the first time in humans in 1976 in Zaire (now Democratic Republic of Congo). It is transmitted through body fluids and has a mortality rate of between 25 and 90 per cent, depending on which strain of the disease it is. However, some patients make a full recovery, including a pregnant woman in Kibaale district who lost her baby but went on to survive the disease.