As the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) outbreak spirals in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Uganda and DRC have resolved to increase cross-border surveillance on both sides of the Uganda-DRC border. This was the consensus during a cross-border meeting among health officials from the two countries, held at Kasindi- Lubiriha immigrations office, in DRC.
One of the ways suggested to improve cross-border surveillance is to harmonize the data collection tools to ensure that similar information is captured at the screening points along the Uganda-DRC border in both countries. The officials also highlighted the need to map out all the points of entry along the border to ensure that no border entry point lacks a screening point.
To increase awareness among the populations on both sides of the border, the participants agreed to intensify risk communication and community engagement to address the issue of misconceptions, rumours and myths on Ebola, particularly at the Kasese - Kasindi-Lubiriha border area.
The Uganda team also shared experiences about the functionality of the different pillars in the EVD preparedness response. From that, the DRC team particularly appreciated the use of Village Health Teams to conduct risk communication and community engagement. They also welcomed the community-based disease surveillance approach, promising to apply it in the DRC context.
The meeting was attended by teams from both countries including health, security, immigration, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Uganda Red Cross.
Despite having no confirmed case of EVD, Uganda remains on high alert and is implementing a series of activities to ensure preparedness. These activities include border screening, community based and health facility surveillance, coordination of activities, collection and testing of blood samples from alert cases and capacity building for Infection, Prevention and Control. Other activities include clinical management, psycho-social care for safe and dignified burials, risk communication, community engagement and cross-border surveillance.