BLAME GAME? Probe UPDF on Ebola outbreak, MPs

 

By our reporter

A section of lawmakers have asked the Ministry of Health to stretch their probe into the origins of ebola outbreak to the Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF) saying the Army is famed for bringing the deadly virus into the country through its returning troops abroad.

The call was made by Charles Ayume (Koboko Municipality) while reacting to the statement by the Minister of State for Health (General Duties) on the outbreak of ebola virus in Uganda.

Ayume who doubles as Chairperson Parliament’s Health Committee said that there is need to focus on the gold mines in Mubende districts because mines are natural habitats for bats, and these mammals are known for spreading the deadly virus, but the focus also needs to stretch out to other avenues like foreign to local spread

“I have it on good authority that one of the first outbreaks of ebola in 2001, index 1 was a UPDF patient coming from the operation in DRC. That is why the epicenters were Gulu and Mbarara, the two divisions that pulled out of DRC went to Gulu and Mbarara. Today, we are in DRC for operation Shujja UPDF has a barracks in Mubende. I am just giving that information that could be one of the channels of investigations as we explore the channel of the mines,” said Ayume.

However, State Minister for Defence, Markson Oboth was quick to defend the Army arguing that UPDF doesn’t have any barracks in Mubende district, but rather a rehabilitation center and when ebola broke out in DRC, vaccines were procured and taken for all UPDF troops.

“And for operation Shujja, we haven’t had anybody come back. They will definitely come back, they are Ugandans so for the record, it isn’t related to the movements of our troops,” said Oboth.

Minister Kawooya informed Parliament of a confirmed Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) outbreak in Mubende District, on the 15th September 2022, after one suspected case-patient of Viral Hemorrhagic Fever (VHFJ was identified and isolated in Mubende Regional Referral Hospital.

The suspected case-patient was a 24-year-old male who lived in Ngabano Village of Madudu Sub County in Mubende District and he presented with high grade fever, convulsions, blood-stained vomitus and diarrhea, loss of appetite and pain on swallowing. He also presented with chest pain, dry cough, and bleeding in the eyes. While in the isolation unit at Mubende RRH, he developed yellowing of eyes, tea colored urine and complained of abdominal pain on the 17th September 2022.

The Minister said that the Mubende district team verified a total of six deaths and all the deceased have since been buried, however, the Ministry of Health cannot confirm that they succumbed to EVD and that their contacts are being listed and will be followed up for 21 days.

A section of lawmakers however, raised concerns on the discrepancies in the number of victims and patients after Pascal Mbabazi (Buwekula County) Mbabazi revealed that one month ago, he warned Government to regulate the operations of the mine fields and if not checked, the mines would post a catastrophe very soon and what has happened doesn’t come as a surprise.

Mbabazi said: “My people are now dying, they are reporting one person but there are over 7 with similar symptoms and signs. We have buried over 25 people between August-September in areas of Kansambya and Kasolokamponye and they are the very sub-counties that are being reported to have received the case of ebola outbreak in Mubende district.”

John Kamara (Bufumbira North) urged the Ministry of Health to treat the matter with serious urgency and its shouldn’t be seated in Kampala but head to Mubende and find out all those people with symptoms, quarantine them so as to put to an end to the spread of the deadly virus.

Minister of state for Energy, Opolot Okaasai said that Ebola is a contentious disease and the way to go is create awareness and condone the area and if it is confirmed by the Ministry of Health, then the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development wouldn’t hesitate to declare a quarantine and restrict the movement within the mines.

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