Authorities in Uganda say the country’s healthcare system has succeeded in stemming further spread of the deadly Ebola virus that killed at least three people in Kasese, a border district with the Democratic Republic of Congo, which has been battling it over the past 11 months.
The announcement came as the US government announced close to $100 million in aid to the DRC government to bolster efforts to contain the outbreak. The contribution raises hope that the epidemic will be controlled.
But concerns remain among other neighbours, especially South Sudan, Kenya and Rwanda that the risk the disease may still spread.
WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus announced that DRC’s Ebola funding needs amounted to $98 million, out of which $44 million had been received. He said funding was a major issue in the DRC Ebola control efforts.
“We will continue mobiliSing global and regional support to control this outbreak as soon as possible. It is not clean until the outbreak in DRC is finished,” said Dr Tedros in Uganda on his way from DRC in June.
In response, USAid last week bridged the gap that is expected to help curb the epidemic that has ravaged DRC since August 2018.
The Ebola Virus Disease Zaire subtype has claimed close to 1,600 lives while 2,244 cases confirmed among the Congolese as of July 5.
This is the second largest recorded outbreak of Ebola after the 2014 West Africa epidemic that killed more than 11,000 people.
USAid administrator Mark Green in June visited Ebola-affected areas in the DRC to observe programming and response, where he met local community leaders, visited health care systems and partner staff responding to the outbreak.
The USAid funds will support infection prevention and control activities, training for health care workers, community engagement interventions, promotion of safe and dignified burials, and food assistance for people and communities affected by Ebola.
This assistance is also bolstering preparedness efforts in Goma city for communities at risk of Ebola.
Owing to its infection rates, the Ebola virus presents a global threat to lives.
So far three Ugandans have been killed by the virus and countries, especially neighbours, remain on high alert.
“This outbreak presents a unique set of challenges, including insecurity and difficulty earning community acceptance for the response,” reads a statement by USAid.
A robust, unified response by the government of the DRC, United Nations, other Great Lake countries, the United States, and the international community in partnership with local communities must occur and is critical to stopping the spread of the disease, according to USAid.
In September 2018, USAid deployed a Disaster Assistance Response Team comprising disaster and health experts from USAid and the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention-to the DRC to co-ordinate the US response to the outbreak.
“As we continue to scale up our assistance for the outbreak, we strongly encourage additional contributions from other donors to meet the needs of people affected by this outbreak and bring it under control as soon as possible,” reads USAid statement.
Meanwhile, Uganda raised over $18 million for preparedness and control of the disease.
The funds have been utilised to establish Ebola treatment centres and training of over 500 health workers. Uganda also vaccinated 4,419 frontline health workers against Ebola.
A joint advisory on Ebola Virus Disease in Uganda reported that no new case of Ebola has been confirmed.
All the 110 people who directly or indirectly came into contact with confirmed patients completed the mandatory 21 days of follow-up without developing any signs of the disease.