Uganda: WHO and Uganda Red Cross Society Sign Agreement to Strengthen Ebola Screening At Points of Entry

WHO Director-General Dr Tedros visited the town of Bikoro in the north-west of the Democratic Republic of the Congo to assess the response to the Ebola outbreak (File photo).

Kampala, 20 February 2019:- The World Health Organization (WHO) and the Uganda Red Cross Society today signed an agreement to strengthen the screening of travellers at 25 points of entry in eight districts on the border between Uganda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

Under the agreement, WHO with funding from the Department for International Development (DFID) in Uganda, will provide US$ 161,662 to the Uganda Red Cross Society to support the identification and deployment of 115 Village Health Teams to ensure that all 25 points of entry between Uganda and the DRC are fully staffed. These teams will undertake regular daily screenings of all travellers entering from the DRC, monitoring for signs of Ebola.

The support will also go towards training 229 frontline health workers and volunteers on infection prevention and control. This activity will be undertaken jointly by the Ministry of Health, WHO and Red Cross technical officers.

In addition, the Uganda Red Cross Society will procure and supply surveillance and reporting materials at all points of entry to capture data on travellers who may be ill with Ebola. Travellers with symptoms consistent with Ebola will be taken to a care facility and provided with follow up care.

Other areas supported are the procurement of additional equipment such as tents, furniture, hand washing facilities, thermometers and safari day allowances allowance for all point of entry workers, as well as personal protective equipment.

Standard Operating Procedures for screening will be displayed at all the entry points and strictly followed by the screening teams. In short, the Uganda Red Cross Society will ensure that the screening process and equipment at all entry points are standardized to increase the effectiveness in identifying travellers who may be sick with Ebola.

With the continued spread of Ebola in the DRC, border screening is a major area of concern for health workers in Uganda given the proximity of the epicentre of the disease. Thousands of people cross the border daily for trade, family, religious, health and education related services at both official and non-official border crossings, which increases the risk of a sick traveller potentially crossing over.

The situation is compounded by the influx of Congolese refugees to Uganda due to the security situation in North Kivu and Ituri provinces which are both affected by the current Ebola outbreak. According to the Office of Prime Minister and the UN Refugee Agency, an average of 111 refugees cross into Uganda every day from the DRC totalling to over 3,451 since 1 January 2019.

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