US pledges 3bn/- support to Marburg response 

THE US government has announced its plan to provide 1.3 million US dollars (equivalent to 3bn/-) to support Tanzania’s efforts to contain Marburg virus disease.

The visiting US Vice-President, Kamala Harris revealed the plan yesterday in Dar es Salaam as she commended the country’s transparency response to the disease.

“Your continued coordination and information sharing with international partners has been critical to contain this disease,” she said.

She added: Through USAID, we plan to provide another 1.3 million USD to support your response efforts and we are providing Personal Protective Equipment to help Tanzanian health workers.”

She said her government will continue working together with the Tanzanian government based on decades of collaboration in public health issues.

On March 22 this year, Minister for Health Ms Ummy Mwalimu confirmed that the mysterious disease reported in Maruku and Kanyangereko villages of Bukoba District Council in Kagera Region was Marburg virus disease.

She said investigations carried out by the National Laboratory confirmed samples from the patients showed it is Marburg viral disease.

She however said that there should be no cause for alarm as the disease is manageable and the government can contain it. The viral disease has so far been contained from further spreading within the reported locality.

The minister said since the disease was reported on March 15 this year, five people out of eight confirmed cases have died.

However, three of the reported cases are continuing with treatment as the government continues with contact tracing of 161 individuals within the region, she said.

Ms Mwalimu said that there is no need to worry because the viral disease is not new. It was reported several times in neighboring Uganda in 2017, 2014, 2012, and 2007, DRC from 1998 to 2,000, 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 insisted.

On his part, the World Health Organisation (WHO) Country Representative, Dr Zabulon Yoti commended the government for quick response in detecting the disease and ensuring that the public is informed.

“This doesn’t go for nothing, its shows that there is a very good coordination in the country with a very clear leadership bringing all of us together,” Dr Yoti said.

He said that the public should not be worried about the disease because it is not the first time that the Marburg is reported in Africa.

“The disease has happened a number of times in neighbouring Uganda and it is usually controlled with strong community involvement,” Dr Yoti said.

He called upon community members to join hands with the government to make sure that the contacts are identified and those who need care are given the service earlier enough.

He further explained that in the past one year, WHO in collaboration with the government worked a lot to make sure that Tanzania has internal capacity.

“We have trained a number of people who required personal protective equipment and then we have a laboratory which is able to confirm our cases from within the country,” he said.

He expressed WHO’s commitment to work closely with the government to make sure that there are no gaps in the response.

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