Fortportal City: The Deputy Director Public Health and Coordinator Contingence plan against Ebola Viral Disease in UPDF; Lt Col Dr Francis Xavier Bakehena, has reassured UPDF troops operating in Eastern DRC that their health is guaranteed in as far as Ebola outbreak in DRC is concerned. The assurance was made at the closing ceremony of UPDF Mountain Division Medical Personnel Rapid Response Team training on Ebola Case Management held at Kalya Courts in Fortportal city.
“As UPDF Directorate of Public Health in conjunction with Ministry of Health and World Health Organization we have put in place safe guard contingence measures against our soldiers operating in DRC contracting Ebola viral disease.” Lt Col Dr Bakehena assured, adding that although the target is about Ebola control, other health hazards such as monkey pox, Marburg and other Hemorrhagic fevers that are prevalent in DRC are being catered.
The five-day training workshop of 32 UPDF Medical personnel from Mountain Division was aimed at creating a Rapid Response Team (RRT) in surveillance, Infection Prevention and Control (IPC) and Case Management. It was intended to impart knowledge in detecting, identification alerts and early warning of Ebola viral disease outbreak within and the surrounding communities where UPDF is operating in Eastern DRC. “Currently there are reports of Ebola outbreak in DRC 2000kms (Mbadaka Health risk zone) away from where our troops are operating. Although authorities in DRC have declared the country Ebola free, we do not want to take chances. That is why we have put in place contingent measures/ stop gaps such as surveillance systems, medical personnel case management and rapid response teams training.” Asserted Dr Bakehena.
Other measures to prevent the spread of Ebola and other hemorrhagic diseases prevalent in environs of Congo include; roll out vaccination program to all the troops operating in DRC and those surrounding the international border and putting troops on alert. “We intend to vaccinate all our troops operating in DRC and those at the borderline right from West Nile up to Kisoro. We have also put our soldiers on alert especially medics to report anybody with signs of Ebola so that we immediately handle the case without reporting to civilian facilities.” Guaranteed Dr Bakehena.
Capt Dr Daniel Okello, the Mountain Division Medical officer and overall Operation Shujaa doctor, who was among the Rapid Response Team trainees, explained the benefits acquired from the training. They include improved skills on how to prepare approach and respond to Ebola viral outbreak. “Ebola virus disease comes with a number of symptoms; like high fever, headache, pains in joints and muscles, unexplained bleeding in the nose, ears and eyes, hiccups. These are the signs and alerts that call for rapid response team to handle.” Explained Capt Dr Okello. He further asserted that since Ebola virus disease is spread through contact with wild animals, they have acquired correct approach to Ebola prone communities living in Congo forests.
“Community engagement and sensitization is very important in as far as prevention of Ebola is concerned. We need to educate the risk hazard population on wearing thick clothes while slaughtering wild animals, thorough cook wild meat, constant hand wash, how to identify signs and symptoms and how to report case alerts. These are going to be our core priorities in the operation theatre.” Said Dr Okello.
Other practical lessons taught were how to use personal protective equipment, surgical respirators, safe and dignified burial of Ebola case, how to isolate Ebola suspect, contact tracing, sample collection and testing.
Currently there are no signs of Ebola virus disease within Operation Shujaa area of operation. Soldiers are affected from common ailments such as malaria fever, skin rush and stomach related infections. Initially, soldiers would suffer from diarrhea, cough but right now they have stabilized as a result of adaptation to the jungle environment.