Efforts to reduce deaths and spread of Ebola

Since September 20, 2022, when the Ebola epidemic was declared in Uganda, MSF has been working with the Ministry of Health to support the provision of medical care in the country.

From the start of the outbreak until October 23, 90 patients were confirmed to have Ebola and 28 people died of the disease. Another 32 people recovered and were discharged from treatment centers.

Given the challenges posed by the lack of a vaccine or licensed treatment to treat the Sudanese strain of Ebola, and based on experience gained from previous outbreaks, MSF is focusing our response in three areas.

Medical, nursing, logistical, infection prevention and control (IPC) and health promotion personnel are currently working to limit the spread of the epidemic, reduce deaths, and facilitate epidemiological surveillance, research and innovation.

One of the most important goals of controlling the spread of the epidemic is to reduce the time between the appearance of the first symptoms of the disease and its treatment. We know that the earlier patients are treated, the better their chances of survival and the lower the risk of the disease spreading within the community,” explains Denis K. Mbaye, MSF Outreach Project Coordinator.

In Mubindi district, the epicenter of the epidemic, several MSF teams are currently deployed near patients. For example, some visit health centers or schools where Ebola patients have been to support infection prevention and control and to provide health promotion advice.

They also provide medical and social support to people who have been forced to isolate for 21 days after contact with an Ebola patient by distributing essential items such as hygiene products, food donations, emergency kits and outreach. This support is intended to compensate for the loss of income-generating activities and allows the individual to carry out his isolation in acceptable conditions.

MSF’s health outreach team is also involved in contact tracing and identification to quickly identify people at risk of contracting the disease and raise awareness about how to prevent it and what to do if they develop symptoms. Finally, at MSF, we are preparing to support the affected health centers to help them provide free primary health care to the population in the areas affected by the pandemic.

At the same time, MSF continues to support the Ugandan Ministry of Health in the medical treatment of patients infected with the disease in Mubindi district, which remains the epicenter of the outbreak. A 40-bed Ebola treatment center has been completed and another 40-bed facility, which will have the capacity to provide intensive care, is being built in Mubindi for patients with confirmed cases. An 8-bed treatment unit has been set up in Madodo for those in the early stages of the disease.

“In addition to setting up the units, we have donated medicines and protective equipment, and we have trained medical personnel working in health centers, particularly on how to care for patients, but also on the hygiene procedures they should implement, which is crucial to avoid transmission in hospitals. The Ministry of Health has also provided us with MSF medical and nursing staff who are experienced in dealing with cases of hemorrhagic fever.”

In Kampala, the country’s capital, we will develop similar measures: health promotion activities, social support for contacts, support for health centers with regard to infection prevention and control, and health care support for non-Ebola patients. MSF is also expected to be involved in patient care in the near future.

Finally, on the epidemiological side, the Epicenter (a research arm established by MSF) cooperates with the Ministry of Health, to support epidemiological activities, including surveillance, control and prevention of infection.

From MSF, we also express our interest and availability to participate in the research that will begin in the coming weeks on vaccines and treatments for the Sudanese strain of Ebola virus.

“Approval of effective vaccines and treatments for the Zaire strain of Ebola in 2018-2019 in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and management of subsequent outbreaks have been critical tools in controlling the spread of the virus. However, we know that they can be developed and pre-tested for safety, but cannot be tested This is why, as with the clinical trials of vaccines and treatments for the Zaire strain in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in 2019, MSF is ready to invest significantly in this research,” concludes John Johnson, Vaccine Expert. Epidemiology is a response from Doctors Without Borders.

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