Published: Fri, November 09, 2018
Medical | By Johnnie Horton

Uganda begins Ebola vaccination for high-risk health workers

Uganda begins Ebola vaccination for high-risk health workers

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, will visit the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) from November 5 to 9, where several regions suffer the appearance of Ebola.

By far the worst epidemic was in West Africa in 2014-2016, when 28,000 people were infected and 11,000 died in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea.Ebola kills between 20 percent and 70 percent of victims, depending on the strain.

DR Congo's health ministry says the deadly Ebola virus has infected 300 people in the country eastern region since the outbreak nearly two months ago.

This is the first time that a vaccination drive has begun before the actual outbreak. Indeed, this particular vaccine is now being administered in DRC and is demonstrating positive protective results and potency against the Ebola virus-Zaire type.

Yonas Tegegn Woldemariam, WHO country representative in Uganda, told newsmen that the operation kicked off in Uganda's western district of Ntoroko.

According to authorities, about 26,000 people in the central African nation have meanwhile received a vaccine to prevent Ebola.

This could have been avoided if the vaccine had been available then.

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Several studies have shown that the vaccine is safe and protective against the Ebola virus but more scientific research is needed before it can be licensed.

This Merck vaccine candidate rVSV-Ebola was also used in the Ebola outbreak in Equateur province in May-July 2018.

Uganda's Minister of Health, Dr. Jane Ruth Aceng said she believes that the administration of the Ebola vaccine to frontline healthcare workers has been the missing link in the country's EVD preparation and readiness efforts.

"The vaccine is not available to the general population at this stage. This is targeted vaccination", Dr Aceng emphasized.

Besides militia attacks that have hindered health workers, the region's high population density and movements across the borders to Uganda and Rwanda pose additional risks that the highly lethal fever disease could spread in the region.

In December 2000, Lukwiya, a medical superintendent of Lacor Hospital in the northern district of Gulu, died along with 12 nurses after contracting the highly contagious disease, which is transmitted through contact with body fluids. He assured them about its potency and ability to protect them effectively.

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