Health authorities in Kisoro have expressed fear of an Ebola outbreak due to lack of equipment to screen hundreds of Congolese refugees that cross into the district daily through Bunagana border and porous points to escape insecurity back home.
This comes after DR Congo registered a new Ebola case in the country’s North Kivu Province on Monday.
Statistics from the Office of the Prime Minister indicate that about 300 Congolese refugees cross into Uganda through Bunagana and illegal points on a daily basis.
“We are living at the mercy of God because we do not have any equipment to screen the hundreds of Congolese refugees that cross into our district because the one we had got spoilt and has never been repaired. We appeal to the Ministry of Health and other partners to help us because there is a possible Ebola outbreak in our district,” Ms Annet Dusabe, the assistant district health officer in charge of maternal and child health, said this week.
Ms Dusabe said although they have provided hand washing facilities at all the seven health centres at the border, there is still a risk.
Mr Daniel Kisaamo, the commandant at the Nyakabande refugee transit camp in Kisoro, said they have always provided hand washing facilities and isolated refugees that presented high temperature to control the spread of Covid-19, adding that they will do the same for Ebola.
“Our staff are equipped with protective gear, besides providing hand washing facilities for all the Congolese refugee arrivals at the transit camp. We shall continue to do the same to control possible Ebola outbreak,” Mr Kisaamo said.
Dr Allan Muruta, the commissioner in charge of epidemics at the Ministry of Health, earlier said they were sensitising health workers and residents about the identification of Ebola symptoms and prevention of the disease.
The World Health Organisation recently started a five-day training in Kampala to increase the capacity of health workers in five countries, Uganda inclusive, to respond to infectious diseases such as Ebola.
In May, the Minister of State for Relief, Disaster Preparedness and Refugees, Ms Esther Anyakun, issued a seven-day ultimatum to all Congolese refugees that were renting houses in Bunagana border and other border sub-counties in the district to voluntarily relocate to Nyakabande camp or return to their country.
However, the directive was reversed following fresh fighting between the M23 rebels and the Congolese government, which resulted in the rebels taking control of Bunagana Town.