On 20th September 2022, the Ministry of Health in Uganda declared an outbreak of the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) in Mubende District. This followed a laboratory confirmation of a patient from a village in Madudu-Sub country, Mubende district – Central Uganda. The EVD quickly spread to other eight (8) districts including Kagadi, Mubende, Kyegegwa, Kassanda, Bunyangabu, Kampala, Masaka, Jinja and Wakiso.
Kwesiga Robert, Secretary General of Uganda Red Cross Society (URCS) said that with support from partners; Ministry of Health, International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent (IFRC), International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), United States Agency for International Development (USAID), United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), World Food Program (WFP), European Union Humanitarian Aid, and 510 + an initiative of Netherlands Red cross, URCS supported the EVD response through five pillars including:
- Risk Communication and Community Engagement (RCCE)
- Case Management
- Surveillance (Community Based Surveillance)
- Mental Health (Psychosocial support) and
Kwesiga noted that URCS delivered the five pillars successfully through the following activities:
1. Risk Communication and Community Engagement (RCCE).
- URCS trained and deployed over 3,000 volunteers to support with risk communication, community engagement, surveillance, and contact tracing in the EVD struck districts. 69,838 Households were reached, 6,029 communal gatherings held and 499,271 people reached.
- URCS volunteers sensitized the community about Ebola, signs and symptoms, prevention and how to report in case of any suspected cases using the URCS toll free line 0800211088
- URCS volunteers supported the process of contact tracing for cases who had been in contact with probable and confirmed cases within the community as a disease control measure.
2. Case management
- URCS deployed six (6) ambulances to support community efforts to evacuate probable cases and refer them to the Ebola treatment centers, which totalled to 1,287 evacuations.
- URCS also conducted 55 Safe and Dignified Burials (SDB) including 179 burial alerts and disinfected 512 households
- Over 1,566 people were provided with hot meals as a case management measure to families within the community
3. Community Based Surveillance
- URCS intensified community-based surveillance as a way of strengthening community-level preparedness and action for disease prevention and control.
- URCS engaged the community to be vigilant, report any suspected cases and also availed volunteers to respond to the public calls, demystify rumors and guide with factual information on EVD.
4. Mental Health (Psychosocial support)
- Psychosocial support was provided to members of the affected families, URCS staff and volunteers
- URCS continuously attended District Task Force, partner and pillar meetings daily during the EVD response period.
- URCS strategically positioned the Protective Personal Equipment (PPEs) to better support response teams at community level and the ambulance operations.
- URCS used a digital data collection tool dubbed ‘Kobo’ to compile statistics in a timely manner across all affected districts
The EVD outbreak was successfully controlled in less than four months having claimed 55 lives including six health workers. After 113 days, the Ministry of Health together with the World Health Organization, declared Uganda Ebola Free on 11th, January,2023. “We have successfully controlled the spread of Ebola in Uganda and we now declare Uganda Ebola outbreak free,” said Dr. Jane Ruth Aceng, the Health Minister in Uganda.
Through his social media handles, The Secretary General of the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) Jagan Chapagain extended a congratulatory message to Uganda and more so to the Uganda Red Cross for this milestone: “Congratulations Uganda! The Country once again led the local efforts to tackle an Ebola outbreak. Proud of the Uganda Red Cross Society and IFRC teams responding at the community level since day one. We thank all the partners who support local action.”
Kwesiga further elaborated that even after the Ebola free declaration, URCS has maintained volunteers on ground and continued conducting community-based surveillance, calling upon communities to remain vigilant, helping them settle in and adopt to new behaviour to keep them EVD free.
“Special appreciation goes out to our partners, the Government of Uganda through the Ministry of Health and all organizations that came onboard and worked tirelessly to ensure that Uganda won the fight against the deadly EVD in less than four (4) months. URCS continues to pledge commitment and dedication during times of emergency as we play our auxiliary role to the Government of Uganda,” said Kwesiga.