Uganda’s ministry of health has already confirmed that there is an outbreak of Marburg virus in the country.
So far three people have lost their lives to the virus according to WHO. The three were from the same family.
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The ministry of health in Kenya has called for heightened vigilance in all of the country’s health management systems. WHO confirms that there is contact tracing and active search going on in Kween in Kapchorwa district in Uganda as well as in Kitale and West Pokot in Kenya.
Kenya has every reason to be concerned about a plague in the neighbouring country. trade ties between the two neighbours see thousands of people crossing the border on land and air every year.
As a result, the ministry has put in measures to protect the country incase of an outbreak.There is increased surveillance at all points of entry in regions that border Eastern Uganda where the plague has claimed three lives so far.
The Marburg virus is transmitted by direct contact with the blood, body fluids and tissues of infected persons or wild animals (e.g. monkeys and fruit bats).Fever, nausea, vomiting and chills are some of the symptoms to look out for in a patient with marburg virus.
In Madagascar, the plague has already claimed 102 lives since August 2017. 1,297 people were infected with the virus.
As fears of the spread of Marburg intensify, 9 countries have issued warnings;
- South Africa
Managing an outbreak requires a concerted effort by all health workers. Both Kenya and uganda are undergoing serious challenges in their healthcare workforce. Currently, doctors working in public hospitals in Uganda are on strike. Kenyan nurses returned to work last week, Nov 2nd, ending a 5 month strike that took a toll on service delivery in public hospitals.
While countries are apt in stating their ability to manage outbreaks, a workforce that is lacking in motivation can breed disastrous results.
African countries must come to the realisation that the growing population, urbanisation coupled with climate change requires a deliberate preparedness in the health sector. How do you conquer disease when the basics like sanitation and vaccination are unmet? Kenya knows the depths of outbreaks if the recent cholera and Malaria outbreaks is anything to go by.
There are precedents. When there was a yellow fever outbreak in Angola, the worst in 30 years, there was a vaccine shortage. The emergency stockpile was depleted. If there were more countries involved, the results would have devastated communities further.
African countries need to plan better, put resources where they are needed most because playing ping pong with healthcare systems has only yielded in blame-games and empty promises.