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Volunteers in Gulu Ask Health Ministry to Enroll them in Fight Against Ebola

A group of volunteers in Gulu City have offered to work with the Health Ministry in the fight against Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) in Mubende District. The volunteers worked previously on the frontline during one of the worst Ebola outbreaks in Gulu District in 2000 which killed more than 200 people.

Last week, the Health Ministry announced the outbreak of the Ebola Sudan variant in Mubende District in Central Uganda which has since claimed the lives of 23 people.

George Ovola, one of the volunteers who fought the deadly viral disease in October 2000 in Gulu district recounts his journey into the Ebola task force at the height of the disease.

Ovola was 22 years old at the time when he volunteered to become an ambulance driver ferrying Ebola patients and those who succumbed to the disease. He was a group of close to 26 other youth who willingly volunteered to fight the disease.

Ovola however notes that out of the 26 people, the majority left the work out of fear leaving only 12 out of whom 11 of them later succumbed to the virus.

Despite the death of his colleagues, and the risks involved in his voluntary work, Ovola never quit till the country was declared free of Ebola in January 2001. Following last week’s outbreak of the deadly viral disease, Ovola says he is willing to volunteer again in fighting the disease in Mubende if given a chance.

Ovola is also currently undertaking voluntary sensitization on Ebola Virus disease in the community through various radio stations.

He called on the Health Ministry to consider the volunteers who have had experience in handling health emergencies related to Viral hemorrhagic fevers.

Ovola isn’t the only one who has offered himself to work as a volunteer in fighting the Ebola outbreak in the country. 

Tony Walter Onena, a veteran journalist and senior registered nurse has also come out to help the government in combating the disease.  Onena has had experience as a frontline health worker in Ebola case management in Gulu in 2000, Bundibugyo in 2007, Kagadi in August 2012, Luwero, and Marburg in Kabale District. He was also deployed by the World Health Organization (WHO) in managing one of the worst Ebola outbreaks in Liberia in 2014.

Onena told Uganda Radio Network in an interview Tuesday that he is much willing to help the government in managing the Ebola cases ravaging Mubende District.

“I have got the quality; I can work anywhere in response to any health catastrophe. I’m very willing to offer my service to the people of this country,” He said.

He however advised that to ensure speedy curbing of the contagion, the Health Ministry must subject all health workers in the country to fresh training on managing hemorrhagic fever.

“When the health workers are better equipped with the knowledge, it becomes easy to manage the virus because they will detect it fast enough,” He says.

Last week, Gulu District health officials reactivated the covid-19 taskforce team to undertake surveillance of suspected Ebola virus disease. The activation of the task force according to the acting Gulu District Health Officer was in readiness to combat the disease.

In Amuru District, health officials and security personnel have strengthened surveillance at Elegu Town Council at the Uganda-South Sudan border point.

The Resident District Commissioner Stephen Odong Latek says the border Health control team has since been reactivated to manage any emergency cases of Ebola. He notes that among other interventions they have undertaken is the training of health workers at the border point and the introduction of compulsory handwashing by travelers plying to and out of the country.

Emmanuel Ainebyoona, the Health Ministry Senior Public Relations officer told Uganda Radio Network on Wednesday that the Ministry is already mobilizing volunteers and those who previously worked in Ebola case management.

According to Ainebyoona, those who had experience working in Ebola case management should reach out to the Director of General Health Services at the Ministry of Health.

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