Gov’t to spend Shs120B on Financing Ebola Recovery Activities

The Ministry of Health (MOH) plans to spend an estimated US$ 35 million (about 120 billion Shillings) on financing the Ebola Recovery plan, which involves among others continued follow-up of survivors and decommissioning of treatment centers.

The Health Minister Dr. Jane Ruth Aceng, says that while the country was declared free from the deadly viral hemorrhagic fever in January this year, the World Health Organization recommended that the country embarks on 180 days enhanced surveillance period to be able to quickly prevent further spread in case a new case is identified.

She said during this time, the ministry wants to ensure that everything else that is pending including payment of some Village Health Teams (VHTs) who are still complaining are cleared.    

While various stakeholders are still submitting their accountability reports for the response, Aceng says US$ 28 million was unspent from the response. She, however, couldn’t reveal the actual amount spent on the outbreak. 

She says that they have now outlined a number of things that they have to do such that when a similar epidemic hits, it finds the country better prepared to quickly intervene and save lives. In this outbreak whose epicenter was in Kassanda and Mubende districts, fifty-five people died and eighty-seven others survived but are still being followed up as the disease tends to leave the victims with symptoms, which in many instances take a long time to clear. 

Aceng says if all things listed in the Ebola recovery plan are followed to the dot, it will be easier for the ministry to intervene before the virus claims as many people as they were in this outbreak.

On her part, Dr. Salome Okware, a member of the outbreak task force at the Ministry of Health, says that they have started decommissioning Ebola Treatment Units but will later revise the National Ebola Standard Operating Procedures developed in 2014/2015 to include the new findings about the virus that they have learned during the recent outbreak.

When URN asked Col Dr. Henry Kyobe, the Ebola Outbreak Incident Commander how they intend to cater to all the eighty-seven survivors post-outbreak, and considering the fact that treatment centers are being decommissioned, he said they will be managed within the routine health system. He said it’s those that cannot be managed in routine care who will be managed at the established survivors’ clinic.

However, while the Ministry is focusing on clinical issues associated with surviving and recovering from such outbreaks as Ebola, experts recommend as part of the recovery, an elaborate plan on how issues of stigma and mental health will be handled.

In their recent report dubbed, “Finding Humanity in uncertainty Pandemic Preparedness and Response in Uganda” scientists under the Uganda National Academy of Sciences (UNAS) emphasized the need to pay attention to social-cultural aspects associated with outbreaks of this nature.

Prof. Seggane Musisi, a Professor of Psychiatry warns that it is the social-cultural aspects of the epidemic that exacerbate the mental health challenges that people battle both while the outbreak is still fresh and those, which last long after.

He recommends a number of interventions including crisis counseling and adds that government should consider employing personnel versed in social anthropology when planning and implementing epidemic control measures such that once the epidemic is gone, they don’t have to battle other aftermath health crises.  

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