New Vision (Kampala)

22 February 2013

Uganda: Govt Can Now Test for Ebola, Marburg

The Ministry of Health can now test for Ebola, Marburg and yellow fever and there is no longer need to fly out specimens abroad for testing, a parliament committee has heard.

The Commissioner Clinical Services in the Ministry of Health, Dr. Jacinto Amandua said that in a bid to promote epidemic, and disaster preparedness and response the ministry has now built capacity for diagnostics at Uganda Virus Research institute.

"We can now confirm yellow fever, Ebola, Marburg. We do not now need to send specimens abroad," Amandua told the committee on human rights on Thursday.

He was part of the team led by state minister of health (general duties) Sarah Kataike before the committee to brief members on how far the ministry had gone to implement recommendations of the Uganda Human Rights Commission (UHRC) contained in their reports from 2008 to 2011.

One of the recommendations was that the ministry should improve the country's epidemic preparedness and response in order to avoid a big number of people dying arising from rampant disease outbreaks.

Jacinto also noted that a standby epidemic preparedness and response team had been trained in addition to putting in place a strong epidemic surveillance team in the ministry and in the districts and trained case management teams. "The ministry has therefore been successful in managing and controlling the Ebola in Kibale and Luwero, Marburg in kabala and Ibanda and the sporadic cholera outbreaks in the country."

On the Neglected Tropical Diseases, he said the health sector has prioritized and targeted several diseases for elimination and control.

"Government with support from development partners provides funds every financial year for control of NTDs. Among them are poliomyelitis, trypanosomiasis, guinea worm, onchocerciasis, measles, leprosy, trachoma and lymphatic filariasis," Amandua said.

Reacting to the presentation by the ministry, the legislators urged the ministry to pay the health workers it had recruited recently saying that some of them were threatening to quit their posts. They also pointed out that there must be adequate supervision of health centres throughout the country.

They also accused some health workers of mistreating HIV/AIDS patients, something which they said must stop.

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