In Congo, war and Ebola outbreak spread fear to neighboring nations

Frederick Owens
November 9, 2018

The ongoing Uganda vaccinations targeting frontline health workers will be carried out in five districts along the border with Congo.

This is the first time that a vaccination drive has begun before the actual outbreak.

A total of 2,100 doses of the "rVSV-Ebola" vaccine will be administered to the health workers to protect them against the type of Ebola virus strain that is now circulating in some parts of DRC.

Dr Yonas Tegegn Woldemariam, WHO Representative in Uganda, referred to the vaccination as a huge step in mitigating the risk of Ebola among health care workers, and assured them that it would provide effective protection.

Ugandan officials say twice-weekly market days _ during which 10,000 Congolese cross into Uganda _ have put the country at high risk.

This particular vaccine is now being administered in DRC and is demonstrating positive protective results and potency against the Ebola virus-Zaire type.

In vaccinating frontline health workers against EVD, Uganda health authorities are cautiously hoping to prevent another outbreak.

An outbreak of Ebola in the DRC has claimed 180 lives so far, and with high numbers of people moving across the border "the public health risk of cross-border transmission of Ebola to Uganda was assessed to be very high", according to minister Jane Ruth Aceng.

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While the vaccine is not available for public use and is considered experimental, it's being handed out under a compassionate use program, the World Health Organization said.

The vaccine is only used under "compassionate use" although it is not commercially licensed.

It is highly likely that Uganda may import EVD from DRC given the closeness of the current epicenter, the high population movements due to trade, social-cultural connections and easy accessibility of health services in Uganda.

The targeted districts are Kabarole, Bunyangabo, Kasese, Bundibugyo and Ntoroko, where there is an outbreak of the highly contagious disease.

This preventive exercise has begun in the Ntoroko district which is located in central Africa.

In Congo, where thousands of people have been given the experimental Ebola vaccine, a worrying number of vaccinated health workers have been infected.

A World Health Organization assessment of the situation in DRC released on 22 October, warned of the potential for the virus to spread into Rwanda, South Sudan and Burundi, as well as Uganda, and called on these countries to step up readiness efforts.

Other reports by Free-Prsite

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