Uganda to vaccinate health workers against Ebola

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Twice-weekly market days - during which some 10,000 Congolese cross into Uganda - have put Uganda at high risk, according to local health officials.

Robert Redfield, MD, director for the CDC, said November 5 that if the conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo's Ebola outbreak becomes more serious, global public health experts should consider the possibility it can't be brought under control, according to The Washington Post.

At least some 3,000 frontline health workers in the five high-risk districts of Kabarole, Bunyangabo, Kasese, Bundibugyo, and Ntoroko, which border the DRC, are targeted. It will be administered only to around 2000 first contact health care workers who are working near the borders of DRC in the north Kivu province says the WHO and would not be available for the general public.

The deteriorating security situation in the DRC has complicated efforts to get the Ebola outbreak under control: across the country, local populations and humanitarian workers assisting them have come under attacks by armed groups, necessitating the deployment of a large United Nations peacekeeping mission.

Yonas Tegegn Woldemariam, WHO's Uganda representative said, "In previous [Ebola] outbreaks, Uganda lost health workers, including the renowned Dr Matthew Lukwiya, as they cared for patients".

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A total of 2,100 doses of Merck's "rVSV-Ebola" vaccine candidate will be administered to the health workers to protect them against the type of Ebola virus strain that is now circulating in some parts of DRC.

While the vaccine is not available for public use and is considered experimental, it's being handed out under a compassionate use program, the World Health Organization said.

Other preparatory activities underway in Uganda to prevent the spread of the disease include health facility and community-based surveillance; collection and testing of blood samples; and cross-border monitoring.

"Compassionate use of the Ebola vaccine for health care and frontline workers", will begin on Monday, she told journalists. The infection killed 11,000 died in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea and infected 28,000 in the period between 2014 and 2016. Since then there have been regular outbreaks across Central and West African countries.

This latest vaccine to be administered has been developed by Merck and is not yet licensed.

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