Responding to the Ebola Outbreak in Uganda

CHWs are once again on the front lines of a deadly health threat in Uganda, following an Ebola outbreak first reported on September 20, 2022 in the central district of Mubende. The current outbreak is from the Sudan ebola virus strain, for which there are no approved vaccines or treatments. Given the highly contagious and deadly nature of Ebola, rapid case identification, contact tracing, and comprehensive infection prevention and control measures will be essential.

At Living Goods, we are leveraging learnings from COVID to support the government’s response to Ebola. This includes work to sensitize communities in disease prevention and symptom identification and supporting CHWs to continue safely providing essential health services at the community level. This is critical since health system strains from an outbreak can lead to even greater morbidity and mortality from otherwise preventable and treatable diseases. As a member of the national task force responsible for planning and guiding the response, we are providing technical advice on how best to include CHWs in activities, and are quantifying their needs for additional personal protective equipment (PPE).

Reports have already observed a reduction in the number of patients turning up for services at some health facilities where patients with Ebola are isolated and treated. We quickly to put in place the following measures, including:

  • Capacity building trainings for our field based staff and CHWs on Ebola symptoms and prevention measures, starting in high risk districts. Training has been rolled out to all 4,200+ Living Goods supported CHWs in Uganda, and we are aligning with BRAC to ensure a similar approach is taken. Some CHWs in Kampala have received extra training in risk communications from the Kampala Capital City Authority, to boost sensitization at the community level.
  • Sending SMS alerts to Living Goods supported CHWs every 48 hours to remind them of Ebola symptoms and prevention measures.
  • Distribution of additional PPE, such as hand washing soap and additional quantities of gloves, aprons, and masks in high-risk locations.
  • Printing and distributing 110,000+ pieces of educational materials in high risk districts to support community mobilization efforts.
  • Moving to remote trainings and remote working in the highest-risk districts. Peer group meetings have also been paused.

Depending on how the situation evolves, we will adjust our protocols for CHWs to ensure they continue to provide services safely.

Since the outbreak was first reported in Mubende district, cases have now spread to six more districts, including Kampala. With the support of partners, the government has ramped up efforts to increase contact tracing, which stands at 92%.

Compared to the Zaire ebolavirus, the Sudan ebolavirus is less fatal, with the current outbreak case-fatality rate at 39% among confirmed cases. This is the 7th Ebola outbreak in the country, and the 2nd largest. The last outbreak was in 2019.

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