Uganda has vaccinated health workers amid fears of concern within the DRC border

Photo: Daily monitor

A medical officer attends a suspect patient with an ebola. Dr. Mathew Lukwiya died of an ebola when he first fell ill in 2000.

Uganda plans to begin vaccinating some of its healthcare workers against Ebola on Wednesday, which is the first country in the world to provide the vaccine without an active outbreak.

Uganda vaccinates at least 3,000 health workers in five districts bordering the Democratic Republic of Congo, where the Ebola epidemic killed at least 180 people.

The vaccination program in this area is motivated by concerns about the spread of the disease across the border between the two countries, and the fact that this border is a big problem, says Grace Kiwanuka, Executive Director of the Federation of Healthcare in Uganda.

"We have seen a lot of exposure for health workers at the border of the Congo," said Kiwanuka RFI. "Uganda has a very porous border with the Democratic Republic of Congo, so we have a lot of refugees and other people going from where violence is."

Eastern violence in the DRC makes it difficult to fight Ebola

In most DR Congo, the government has introduced some important measures to help combat the spread of Ebola. For example, in places of entry and exit of large cities where the Ebola case occurred, people are being examined for this disease and had to wash their hands to contain the virus.

In the light of violence in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo there are questions about how well Kinshasa deals with the spread of Ebola.

"The situation is not improving in this area," said RFM Emmanuel Dupuy, an African expert and chief of the IPSE Paris think tank. "There are a number of rebel groups, as President Kabila said when he spoke to the UN recently when he questioned the effectiveness of UN peacekeeping missions in the eastern DRC for nearly 20 years."

"There are areas that are very difficult to access, and when dealing with Ebola, you must be able to isolate patients, monitor contacts, track all people's contacts, and safe and dignified funerals," adds Tricia Norwood, a Doctor of Physicians without Borders, based in Bunia, part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, near the border with Uganda.

"To do this, you need to get the trust of the community and you need a good sharing of information with the community, and that is really hard when you do not have access to certain communities," said Norwood RFI. "I know that the Department of Health in the Democratic Republic of Congo works very hard when trying to gain access to certain communities, but [the security situation] definitely complicates the whole reaction. "

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