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GUEST BLOG: What Do Health Workers In Uganda Need To End The Current Ebola Outbreak

By Tracy Kobukindo, Manager, Education, Last Mile Health, David Bryden, Director of the Frontline Health Workers Coalition.

mothers2mothers (m2m) is a proud member of the Frontline Health Workers Coalition—part of our commitment to advocate for better pay and support for Community Health Workers. In this guest post, Nurse and Advocate Tracy Kobukindo from Uganda talks to David Bryden, Director of the Frontline Health Workers Coalition, about the recent outbreak of Ebola in Uganda, and what community health workers in the country need to effectively tackle this new health emergency. This blog post was originally published on Frontline Health Workers Coalition’s website on 3rd of November. m2m joined the Coalition earlier this year to advocate for better pay and support for Community Health Workers like Tracy and m2m Mentor Mothers.

What Do Health Workers In Uganda Need To End The Current Ebola Outbreak?

Health workers in Uganda are now at the forefront of responding to another serious infectious disease. Last month the country declared an Ebola outbreak, caused by the Sudan species of the virus. There’s no licensed treatment or vaccine for this strain of Ebola yet, and according to the World Health Organization (WHO), the mortality rate is greater than 41%.

Tracy Kobukindo is a registered Nurse and Advocate in Uganda. She also serves as a Frontline Health Workers Coalition Regional Advisor, helping to guide the Coalition’s advocacy messages and policy recommendations. Photo by Tracy Kobukindo.

Covid-19 has magnified how critical health workers are for emergency response and global health security. Today health workers in Uganda are critical for identifying people infected with Ebola, ensuring they are isolated, and providing early treatment to save as many lives as possible. But for years, Uganda has faced a concerning shortage of health workers. The World Health Organization’s Regional Director for Africa said this shortage contributed to health workers not detecting the virus sooner, as well as its spread. The Minister of Health has urgently requested funding and support for more health workers who can safely contain and halt the outbreak.

David Bryden, director of the Frontline Health Workers Coalition, reached out to Tracy Kobukindo, a Nurse and Advocate in Uganda, to ask about the current situation for health workers. Tracy is a Regional Advisor for the Coalition and a Manager on the Education Team at Last Mile Health.  She shares how she sees the outbreak impacting health workers and her recommendations for policymakers.

This conversation was edited by Carol Bales for length and clarity.

Q: Can you tell me the status of the Ebola outbreak in Uganda?

The outbreak was declared on September 20 in Mubende District, and the virus has now been detected in seven other districts, including in Kampala, the bustling capital city.

According to the update from the Ministry of Health this week, we’ve had a total of 131 confirmed cases of Ebola–46 people have died, 49 people have been treated, and 36 people are still receiving treatment. Eighteen health workers have contracted Ebola—while they were providing care to sick patients. So far six health workers have died.

The Ministry of Health said in an update last week that it will be evaluating the efficacy of three candidate vaccines on contacts in the coming weeks. I hope health workers will be prioritized to receive a vaccine once approved.

Click here to read the full piece, including the rest of Tracy’s interview. 

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