Kampala, 5 March 2018:- The World Health Organization (WHO) has convened a three-day After Action Review (AAR) meeting to evaluate Uganda's preparedness in responding to public health emergencies after the recent Marburg Virus Disease (MVD) outbreak in Kapchorwa and Kween districts. During the meeting, public health experts will examine the detection and response framework for public health hazards right from the National Task Force (NTF), the incident command management system, the various technical sub-committees and their linkages to district structures. The guidelines and standard operating procedures for responding to Viral Hemorrhagic Fevers will also be assessed during the meeting.
The Director-General of Health Services at the Ministry of Health (MoH), Dr Henry Mwebesa, opened the meeting and commended the MoH staff and partners for successfully controlling and containing the MVD outbreak that occurred in Kapchorwa and Kween districts in 2017. "Uganda is prone to a number of disease outbreaks due to its unique geographical location, but due to our preparedness as a country, we have managed to control and contain a good number of them," he said.
Dr Mwebesa further acknowledged the role played by partners including WHO and the district authorities saying, "With the support of partners, MoH mounted an effective response that resulted in robust interruption of transmission."
The WHO Representative to Uganda, Dr Yonas Tegegn Woldemariam commended Uganda for the significant progress made in strengthening its surveillance and response capacities. He added that Uganda has played a significant role in the control of disease outbreaks, not only in the country but also in other countries in the African region. He, however, stressed the need for a one health approach saying, “Strengthening the “one health approach” is another important block that needs attention." On capacity building, he said, "Building capacity at the district and sub-district level including the community-based disease surveillance requires an intensive effort not only from MoH but also from all partners."
The MoH officially declared an outbreak of MVD on 19 October 2017. The response to this outbreak from the Ministry of Health and partners was very swift. It was contained in only six weeks. This remarkable feat was achieved through a well-coordinated response in all areas of the response pillars which included enhanced surveillance, strengthened laboratory support, contact tracing, case management, social mobilization and psychosocial support. There was also a concerted effort on “one health” by MoH and Ministry of Agriculture Animal Industry and Fisheries (MAAIF).