The UPDF on Tuesday said its troops hunting down insurgents in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) are to be immunized against the Ebola virus.
The military in a statement said its medical department together with the ministry of health and the World Health Organization will, starting on Aug. 19, vaccinate the troops including those operating along the common border with the DRC.
Ambrose Musinguzi, Chief of Medical Services, said the troops in eastern DRC face a high risk of contracting the deadly disease.
“The vaccine to be applied which is from Merck is 100 percent effective. We have used it before in Uganda not only to health workers but also in districts of Kasese and Bundibugyo and in some units of UPDF (Uganda People’s Defense Force),” said Musinguzi.
Henry Kyobe Bbosa, the UPDF Epidemiologist, said the army medical personnel have been trained as Ebola Rapid Response Team and Vaccinators to contain and control the outbreak.
“We have conducted TOT (Training of Trainers) workshop of 30 experts in different areas who are going to train other medical workers in the field who will in turn be conducting case findings, managing alerts and carry out vaccination. We are also to deploy three mobile laboratories to be able to manage any signal case,” Bbosa said.
He said there are potentially sporadic unmasked Ebola outbreaks that require contingent measures, in case if any of the troops get infected, the rapid response team is able to respond, manage and treat.
Uganda and DRC in November last year launched joint military operations against the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), an insurgent group hiding in the jungles of eastern DRC.
The ADF is an affiliate of the Islamic State in central Africa and is also blamed for the bombings in the Ugandan capital Kampala last November that left six people dead and 33 others injured.