Govt steps up anti Marburg campaign

THE government has continued to strengthen measures to control further spread of Marburg   disease detected in Kagera Region, including employing over 1,300 Community Health Workers (CHWs) who will be deployed to the region’s villages.

Minister for Health Ms Ummy Mwalimu said on Saturday in Kagera Region said that  to start with  the Community Health Workers will be dispatched  to  Bukoba District Council and Bukoba Municipal Council here, each hamlet being allocated with  two CHWs, one  for each village and three for each street.

The minister arrived in Kagera  on Saturday  with the aim  of knowing the    disease status  where she  received a report  from a team of experts  led by  Chief Medical Officer  Prof Tumaini Nagu which was tasked to monitor the  progress of the disease.

“The government has taken swift action by employing a total of 1,322 CHWs who will be dispatched to all villages in the region as part of the efforts to intensify control measures of the disease,” she said.

The minister said that the CHWs will be on temporary employment for a period of three months, she said.

Minister Mwalimu explained that to-date the number of contacts under surveillance has increased from 193 to 205 of which 89 suspects are workers under the Ministry of Health.

Out of the eight confirmed cases, five patients died including one health worker, while three are admitted to a hospital and are progressing well.

“The 205 contacts will be under surveillance for an incubation period of 21 days. To-date the number of patients who were confirmed to have contracted Marburg Virus disease (MVD) remains eight with five deaths. Three other patients are in isolation rooms and are progressing well, “she said.

Minister Mwalimu expressed gratitude to the World Health Organisation (WHO), UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and other partners for timely interventions which have enabled the government to control the spread of the viral disease.

Elaborating further the minister reminded the public that there should be no cause for alarm as the disease is manageable and the government can contain it. The viral disease has been contained from further spreading to other areas from   the reported villages of Bulinda and Butahyaibega at Maruku and Kanyangereko Wards in Bukoba Rural District.

“A team of medical experts from Muleba District has already arrived in Goziba Island where the first Marburg patient was reported to have come from. Also, the government has hired a steamer equipped with necessary medicines and equipment and will be visiting Lake Victoria islets to screen suspects and conduct public health awareness campaigns,” she said.

The minister further said that a team of medical experts would be stationed at airports, marine ports and bus stations to screen arrivals, including checking passengers’ body temperature as a precautionary measures.

On his part, WHO Resident, Dr Zabulon Yoti hailed the government for timely interventions in controlling spread of the virus disease.

“The timely interventions are highly commendable. I also hail Kagera regional authorities for the coordination which has assisted in controlling the spread of the disease,” he said.

He pledged international assistance to the government to ensure that the disease is under control. The WHO official also warned that Tuberculosis (TB), HIV/AIDS and other diseases were still prevalent, asking the public to continue taking necessary precautions.

UNICEF Country representative, Ms Shalini Bahuguna, commended the government for the efforts taken to control the spread of the Marburg virus disease.

Minister Mwalimu, Dr Yoti, Ms Buhuguna and a team of health experts from the ministry headquarters later visited Maruku and Kanyangereko Wards in Bukoba DC where the eight patients were reported.

They also visited Kabyaire Health Centre in Missenyi District where the 205 contact are under surveillance.

On March 22, this year, Ms Mwalimu said investigations carried out by the National Laboratory on samples from the patients confirmed to be  Marburg virus disease.

She, however, said that there should be no cause for alarm as the disease was manageable and the government could contain it, adding that the viral disease had so far been contained from further spreading within the reported locality.

It was reported several times in the neighbouring Uganda in 2017, 2014, 2012, and 2007, DR Congo from 1998 to 2000, America and Europe.

“There is no cause for alarm. We will collaborate with our neigbours to make sure that those who will be detected with the disease are given timely treatment,” the minister was quoted as saying.

She called upon the public to take preventive measures and report individuals with symptoms including fever, headaches and severe bleeding in various body openings.

Other symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea and dysfunction of the kidney, she said noting that there is no specific treatment for Marburgvirus disease, apart from administering supportive hospital therapy on the symptoms.

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