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USD 80 Million Spent on Tackling Latest Ebola Outbreak in Uganda

As Uganda awaits to be officially declared Ebola-free, the World Health Organisation (WHO) says close to 80 million US Dollars has been spent to halt transmission of the viral disease whose outbreak was declared in September. 

Dr Tegnen Woldermariam, the WHO Uganda representative says that donors including individual countries and United Nations agencies made contributions to various initiatives including surveillance, contact tracing and treatment.

He was speaking to journalists on the sidelines of an accountability meeting attended by donors and Uganda government officials on Tuesday.

While he couldn’t reveal how much exactly was collected from each of the donors, Woldermariam said that the expenditure shouldn’t be a concern, but the many lives saved as the outbreak was controlled in a record 69  days.   

The issue of funding has however been controversial throughout this outbreak whereby donors insisted on directing funding through other agencies than the government despite an outcry by the Health Ministry to handle the cash directly. 

In November for instance, United States Ambassador Natalie Brown told journalists at a press conference that her government had contributed 22.3 million US Dollars which they had allocated to the World Health Organisation, UNICEF, the Infectious Diseases Institute and Baylor Uganda to fund various aspects of the outbreak include surveillance, training of health workers and infection prevention and control.

Now, Health Minister Dr Jane Ruth Aceng says the government of Uganda contributed 6 million US Dollars which they reprogrammed from a World Bank Grant meant to fund COVID-19 pandemic-related work.

Meanwhile, while both donors and the government are now giving accountability for monies spent, there is a section of health workers deployed to work in Ebola quarantine and treatment centres still complaining of not receiving their allowances. Among these are hygienists and a group of nurses and doctors that were deployed in Ebola treatment centres in the Mubende district in November.

URN spoke to Dr Joseph Longoli, one of the health workers deployed at Mubende hospital who said they left the treatment centre with no pay and no contract despite promises by the Ministry of Health to pay after submitting their mobile money and account numbers.

But, Aceng told URN on Tuesday that these are mere complaints by people who put money over lives when such outbreaks occur.  She says they have since paid everybody deployed to do Ebola-related work. 

However, on the contrary, the WHO representative says they have received names of health workers demanding allowances but have so far not yet paid those that were deployed in Mulago and Entebbe have not yet been cleared. 

In terms of figures, in this Ebola outbreak which is the seventh that the country has had, 142 confirmed cases were recorded and 55 lives were lost. Seven of the deaths were recorded among health workers. Also, cases were picked from nine districts of Mubende, Kagadi, Kyegegwa, Bunyangabu, Kassanda, Jinja, Masaka, Wakiso and Kampala.    

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