Posts or Comments 17 June 2024

Borders &Conflict &COVID-19 &Ebola &Epidemic &One Health &Yellow Fever Bill Brieger | 10 May 2023 10:08 am

Outbreaks Emergency Preparedness And Response In Uganda

Solomon Afolabi, a graduating MPH student from the JHU Bloomberg School of Public Health examined the challenge of epidemics and outbreaks in Africa with special reference to Uganda as an example. The abstract of his report is found below.

According to the WHO, preparedness for emergency health conditions like infectious disease outbreaks should be an ongoing action supported by adequate funding, resources, partnerships, and political will that is executed at all levels to keep it sustained. Emergency preparedness is a framework that identifies practical in-country health emergency preparedness principles and elements by acknowledging lessons learned from previous response activities for priority planning, implementation, and reinforcing operational capacities.

Uganda is an ecological hotspot for various infectious diseases making the country liable to outbreaks. In the last two decades, multiple significant outbreaks have occurred, prominent of which are from yellow fever, Ebola virus disease, and COVID-19 global pandemic. Efforts to build a strategic framework for emergency outbreak preparedness and to strengthen the national operational capacity led to the establishment of the Ugandan National Institute of Public Health (UNIPH) in 2013.

This paper presents a blend of literature that takes account of the successes, challenges faced, and gaps identified in the preparedness and response capacities to the infectious disease outbreaks experienced in the last two decades. It also reviewed how the national efforts had fared in operational readiness for an emergency response to epidemics, building a resilient health system, practicing the One-Health human-animal-environment interface, and in government, community, and individual capacities to contribute effectively to strengthen the national emergency preparedness and response to these frequent disease outbreaks. The findings revealed that Uganda’s outbreak preparedness had made much progress over two decades, from the overwhelming Sudan strain Ebola virus outbreak in 2000-2001 to a similar episode from the same species in 2022 to 2023.

The response measures that feature the activation of a national response plan by the MoH were well coordinated locally to swiftly lead to the activation of NTF, NRRT, DTF, DRRT, and VHTs for immediate mobilization and deployment of operational resources to affected districts. The response was strengthened by well-organized local coordination by the MoH and development partners (WHO, CDC, UN agencies, etc.). The immediate setting up of treatment and isolation centers, provision of Ebola kits, training of more health workers, and coverage of 10 high-risk districts ensured a significant impact.

The provision of more than 5000 doses of vaccines with the support of WHO and partners was a global capacity milestone impact, and the country was declared Ebola-free in a record 69 days. Uganda’s current national emergency preparedness and response plan has received commendations locally and from global international partners, having progressively built capacity from lessons learned in just over a decade of responding to frequent infectious disease outbreaks and using the recommendations proffered accordingly.

This sustained momentum of preparedness supported the swift transition to contain COVID-19 and laid a good foundation for their strengthened readiness for an emergency response to outbreaks.

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