The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Uganda has launched an initiative with the Ministry of Health, Buganda Kingdom and other partners to curb the spread of Ebola in Uganda.
UNDP has also engaged cultural and religious leaders under the Inter- Religious Council of Uganda, to scale up the National Ebola Response to curb transmission of the virus, minimize mortality, disruption of socio-economic and health systems and improve standards of care for affected persons.
Other contributing partners include the World Health Organisation and Kampala Capital City Authority which will aid strengthening public health risk communications and work with high risk groups like bodaboda riders and other vulnerable populations.
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Through this project, the UNDP is providing heavy-duty washing machines and incinerators to support infection, prevention and Control (IPC) and deployment of specialist UN Volunteers to support the National Ebola Response in high-risk areas.
Speaking during a high-level engagement on “Leveraging Partnerships for Public Health Emergencies” held at UNDP offices, Hon. Margaret Muhanga, the Minister of State for Health in Charge of Primary Healthcare, commended UNDP for partnership with traditional and religious leaders in supporting the national EVD response, “We believe that people listen to their cultural and religious leaders and that’s why this partnership is very important.”
UNDP Resident Representative Elsie Attafuah underscored the role of traditional leaders and faith institutions in influencing behavioral changes and cascading EVD messages using their structures.Ms. Attafuah also called for innovative ways of enhancing preparedness and response to emergencies,
“We are confronting a perfect storm of evolving threats and growing uncertainty where Uganda has to find innovative ways to build system resilience to tackling impacts of multiple crises at a go – Ebola, COVID-19 pandemic, flooding, drought, hunger, rising prices, etcetera,” she said.
So far a total of 20 technical experts including eight Infection Prevention Officers, two Psychosocial Support Officers,four Case Management Officers and six nurses have been deployed through the World Health Organisation to improve standards of care for Ebola patients, suspects and survivors and minimize transmission inhealthcare settings and communities.
Following the outbreak of the Ebola Virus Disease, the UNDP secured additional funding from the UNDP Crisis Bureau to contribute US$1,300,000 (about UGX 4.85bn) to the national response in the following priority areas: (a) Risk Communication and Community Engagement;(b) Strengthening EVD Response Coordination at National and Sub-national Levels; (c) Infection Prevention and Control (IPC) with a focus on EVD Waste Management;(d) Human Resource Support;and (e) Socio-economic Impact Assessment and Early Recovery.
Central to this support has been the mass production and distribution of Information, Education and Communications (IEC) materials through Buganda Kingdom and the Inter-Religious Council of Uganda (IRCU)structures.
Both IRCU and Buganda Kingdom have held media and community engagements, issued public statements including a pastoral letter to the nation by the IRCU leadership rallying the public to adopt positive behavioral tendencies to minimize spread of the disease and debunking myths and perceptions about Ebola.
“What we have here is an enemy who is mercilessly lethal and deadly. We, therefore, call upon the public to note that Ebola is real, has no cure and kills. Ebola should be understood from the scientific rather than mystical or spiritual perspectives,” reads a press release issued by the IRCU on16 November 2022.
The IRCU leaders also urged the populace to adhere to the Standard Operating Procedures set by the Ministry of Health in the fight against Ebola.
Similarly, there was a statement issued by Buganda Kingdom, through which the Prime Minister commended frontline workers and also clarified falsehoods about the spread of the Ebola Virus Disease.
“We should desist from the belief that the Ebola virus is caused by witchcraft and should desist from taking our friends and relatives to traditional healers; instead, we should take them to hospitals and health facilities because the Ebola virus is not caused by witchcraft,”he said.