Published: Fri, November 09, 2018
Medical | By Vicki Mclaughlin

Health ministry rolls out Ebola vaccination in five prone districts

Health ministry rolls out Ebola vaccination in five prone districts

Last month, deadly violence in Congo's North Kivu province - the epicenter of the Ebola outbreak - left at least 12 people dead.

"I do think this is one of the challenges we'll have to see, whether we're able to contain, control and end the current outbreak with the current security situation, or do we move into the idea that this becomes more of an endemic Ebola outbreak in this region, which we've never really confronted", Dr. Redfield told The Washington Post.

Uganda is to administer an experimental Ebola vaccine for health workers in high-risk areas bordering the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

The deteriorating security situation in the DRC has complicated efforts to get the Ebola outbreak under control: across the country, local populations and humanitarian workers assisting them have come under attacks by armed groups, necessitating the deployment of a large United Nations peacekeeping mission.

Health workers are usually among the first to be infected in an Ebola outbreak.

According to the World Health Organization, until November 1 there were 279 cases of Ebola infection in the DRC, 244 confirmed by laboratory tests, 179 people died as a result of the disease and 81 people were able to recover.

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No cases of Ebola have so far been reported in Uganda, but the authorities are implementing the plan in order to avoid the fatal consequences of previous outbreaks, which saw health workers contract the disease and die as they cared for patients.

Although several studies have shown that the vaccine is safe and protective against the Ebola virus, more scientific research is needed before it can be licensed.

In Congo, where thousands of people have been given the experimental Ebola vaccine, a worrying number of vaccinated health workers have been infected.

"The vaccine is not available to the general population at this stage".

This is called the "ring vaccination strategy" and is an effective method of eradicating highly contagious infectious diseases, say the officials. "This is targeted vaccination", Dr Aceng emphasized.

"The public health risk of cross border transmission of Ebola to Uganda [from DRC] was assessed to be very high at the national level", said Jane Aceng, Uganda's health minister. Risk communication, community engagement and cross-border surveillance are also going on in many districts.

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