By Andrew Irumba
Kampala: The ministry of health has revealed that Uganda needs over Shs28 billion to combat and contain the Ebola outbreak in the country.
Ever since an outbreak of Ebola was confirmed in neighboring DR Congo last year, Uganda has been on high alert trying to control the disease from spiraling to. so far three people have been confirmed to have died in Kasese because of Ebola and many others are still under surveillance. For just preparedness and control, Shs18 million was spent. Now that the outbreak happened, they are seeking USD7.5million (28 billion Shillings) more for the response. Ministry of Health (MOH) spokesperson Emmanuel Ainebyoona says funding is the biggest component of Uganda’s Ebola response, as the country remains on high alert with teams of experts patrolling communities until both Uganda and the neighbouring Democratic Republic Congo (DRC) are declared Ebola-free. DRC has been battling Ebola since August, last year. The money is needed to among others, cater for case management, surveillance, laboratory research, risk communication and community mobilization in addition to logistics like supplies and transport.
Health Minister Jane Ruth Aceng had earlier hinted that the Ugandan government spent Shs10 billion by December 2018 and Shs18 billion in total for the whole preparedness phase, long before the first case of Ebola was confirmed within the Ugandan territory. The minister said that the expenditure was necessary because even if none of the nine previous outbreaks of Ebola in DRC had spiraled to Uganda, the World Health Organization had assessed it as a very high risk this time, considering that the outbreak happened at the border with Uganda. This money she said was spent on, among others, surveillance, screening, training and vaccinating of health workers. Aceng feared that if not a lot energy was put into prevention and preparedness, the country was likely to suffer immensely quoting the West African example where because of the huge investment that went into control over the two years of the outbreak, the three countries – Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone are still just recovering from the shock.
On his part, the WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, who made a stopover in Uganda on Monday while on his way to DRC to assess response to the outbreak, called upon more donors to contribute to the response which he said might be greatly affected by lack of funding. The European Union has already released emergency funding worth 2.5 million Euros (10.4 billion Shillings), towards rapid detection and reaction to cases. In total, since last year, the EU said they had provided funds worth 17 million euros (71 billion Shillings) both in response in DRC and Preparedness in Uganda and South Sudan. However, in a statement on the WHO website, Tedros had last week said that of the USD 54 million (201 billion Shillings), the organization’s partners have promised, only USD 43.6 million (162 billion Shillings) had been received so far to cater for the ongoing outbreak in the region. Meanwhile, a consignment of Ebola drugs is expected into Uganda soon and while commenting about the same, Minister Aceng tweeted thus; “Happy to inform you all that we got clearance from both Uganda National Council for Science and Technology (UNCST) and National Drug Authority (NDA) to bring in the Therapeutic treatment for #Ebola patients in the country.”