Uganda: Fear as Red Cross Withdraws Ebola Screening Volunteers

Kisoro — Kisoro district Ebola surveillance officials are concerned about the partial withdrawal Ebola screening volunteers deployed by Uganda Red Cross Society-URCS from the Uganda-Rwanda and Democratic Republic of Congo-DRC borders.

Red Cross had deployed Ebola surveillance staff at seven entry points including Bunagana, Chanika, Kanombe Ntek, Busanza, Rugabano and Busigi. However, the volunteers have been withdrawn from the entry points with the exception of Bunagana and Chanika.

Ronald Kanyerezi, Uganda Red Cross Society Manager in-charge of Kisoro District, says that they were forced to withdraw volunteers at Kanombe Nteko, Busanza, Rugabano and Busigi entry points due to resource constraints.

According to Kanyerezi, they were forced to withdraw volunteers from five entry points following the expiry of funding from International Organization for Migration (IOM). Kanyerezi says that volunteers have only remained at Bunagana and Chanika, which are used by many people including refugees.

Dr. Stephen Nsabiyunva, the Kisoro District Health Officer, says the withdrawal of the volunteers is a big setback towards Ebola surveillance in the district.

Nsabiyunva says that although the affected entry points are illegal, they had deployed volunteers to make sure that suspected Ebola victims don't cross without being identified.

According to Nsabiyunva, the absence of surveillance volunteers means that suspected Ebola cases can enter the country undetected.

Captain Peter Mugisha, the Kisoro Resident District Commissioner says that they are in a process of deploying Uganda Peoples Defense Forces (UPDF) officers to improvise in surveillance as the District Health Department and Red Cross forge a way forward of securing another funder. - URN

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