US ambassador in Uganda HE Natalie Brown (Middle) poses for a picture with Baylor Uganda ED (blue tie) and other stakeholders at the ceremony to declare end of Ebola in Uganda. left is Amy Boore Program Director, Division of Global Health Protection, CDC Uganda
On January 11, 2023, the Ugandan Ministry of Health (MOH) and the World Health Organization’s Regional Office for Africa (WHO AFRO) declared Uganda Ebola-free, following a 42-day monitoring period during which no cases were reported. Uganda’s Minister of Health, Dr. Jane Ruth Aceng credited the achievement of this success in less than four months to the good coordination and implementation of several interventions by the government of Uganda through the Ministry of Health and several partners and the institution of lockdowns by the President of the Republic of Uganda in epicenter districts of Kassanda and Mubende. The interventions were extended to additional districts of Bunyangabu, Jinja, Kagadi, Kampala, Kyegegwa, and Masaka and the four high-risk non-response districts of Kakumiro, Kyenjojo, Kabarole and Mityana. The implementation partners included, WHO, CDC Africa, UNICEF, MSF, Save the Children, JHPIEGO, AFENET, IDI, Mild May, The Red Cross, and Baylor-Uganda.
Baylor-Uganda implemented several interventions with funding from the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), United States Agency for International Development (USAID), and UKAID (through GIZ), including:
Establishing Sudan Ebola virus (SUDV) situation rooms/Data Center
Baylor-Uganda with support from CDC established SUDV situation rooms in Mubende, Kassanda and Kyegegwa districts to provide timely situation updates.
Baylor-Uganda further seconded staff to the MOH, Incident Management Team and the National Public Health Emergency Operations Centers to support epidemiology, surveillance, public health emergencies, health informatics, and the development of alert management systems (AMS) to guide tailored response efforts at both district and national levels.
Field Epidemiological activities
Baylor-Uganda dispatched field Epidemiologists to conduct rapid mass gathering risk assessments to determine the risk of holding public events and ensure appropriate mitigations are in place. Additionally, field Epidemiologists supported orientation and awareness viral hemorrhagic fevers (VHF) that enhanced Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever (CCHF) virus surveillance during the Sudan ebolavirus outbreak in Kampala city.
Baylor-Uganda improved SUDV surveillance and response capacity through contacts tracing, active case search for sick persons and suspected SUDV alerts, point of entry (PoE) screening at border points, community-based disease surveillance and mortality surveillance. It also built the capacity of healthcare workers, districts, and village health team supervisors to effectively respond to the SUDV, through contact tracing, follow ups and compilation of data for the situation reports.
Infection prevention and control, Laboratory, intensive care and treatment
Baylor-Uganda supported the implementation of IPC/WASH in 489 healthcare facilities, and further trained 138 laboratory personnel and 154 drivers across five districts on safe SUDV specimen collection and transportation from contacts, confirmed cases and dead bodies. Given the challenges posed by the lack of a currently licensed vaccine or treatment for SUDV, Baylor provided technical assistance for effective clinical treatment, patient monitoring, mental health and psychosocial support in the Ebola Treatment Units (ETUs).
National Ebola Virus Disease Survivor Program
To address continuing health problems among SUDV survivors, Baylor-Uganda worked alongside MoH and other partners to establish a suvivor program that would provide comprehensive support for the medical and psychosocial challenges they face, including minimizing the risk of continued Ebola transmission. Support included the set up of Ebola survivor clinics that were established in Mubende and Entebbe Regional Referral Hospitals to treat the disease’s aftereffects ; prevent the re-emergence of the illness that persist in survivors’ body fluids, such as men’s semen and the breast milk of lactating mothers ; and support the mitigation of community myths and misconceptions about survivors and their reintegration into society. Another Clinic will also be established at Kassanda Health Center.