Uganda’s Experience in Ebola Virus Disease Outbreak Preparedness, 2018–2019
Since the declaration of the 10th Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) outbreak in DRC on 1st Aug 2018, several neighboring countries have been developing and implementing preparedness efforts to prevent EVD cross-border transmission to enable timely detection, investigation, and response in the event of a confirmed EVD outbreak in the country. We describe Uganda’s experience in EVD preparedness.
On 4 August 2018, the Uganda Ministry of Health (MoH) activated the Public Health Emergency Operations Centre (PHEOC) and the National Task Force (NTF) for public health emergencies to plan, guide, and coordinate EVD preparedness in the country. The NTF selected an Incident Management Team (IMT), constituting a National Rapid Response Team (NRRT) that supported activation of the District Task Forces (DTFs) and District Rapid Response Teams (DRRTs) that jointly assessed levels of preparedness in 30 designated high-risk districts representing category 1 (20 districts) and category 2 (10 districts). The MoH, with technical guidance from the World Health Organisation (WHO), led EVD preparedness activities and worked together with other ministries and partner organisations to enhance community-based surveillance systems, develop and disseminate risk communication messages, engage communities, reinforce EVD screening and infection prevention measures at Points of Entry (PoEs) and in high-risk health facilities, construct and equip EVD isolation and treatment units, and establish coordination and procurement mechanisms.
As of 31 May 2019, there was no confirmed case of EVD as Uganda has continued to make significant and verifiable progress in EVD preparedness. There is a need to sustain these efforts, not only in EVD preparedness but also across the entire spectrum of a multi-hazard framework. These efforts strengthen country capacity and compel the country to avail resources for preparedness and management of incidents at the source while effectively cutting costs of using a “fire-fighting” approach during public health emergencies.