WHO deploys mobile laboratory to support Marburg outbreak response

Kapchorwa 2 December 2017:- The World Health Organization (WHO) in collaboration with the European Union and the US Center for Disease Control deployed the EU mobile laboratory bringing together experts from Marburg University and Berharndt Nocht Institute for Tropical Medicine at Kapchorwa District hospital to improve sample testing and enable real-time reporting of results during the Marburg outbreak. Additionally, the mobile laboratory will provide an opportunity to train laboratory focal persons in Kapchorwa and Kween district in testing samples picked during the current outbreak and providing real-time results. Previously, samples had to be transported to Uganda Virus Research Institute (UVRI) which is located in Entebbe, several kilometres from Kapchorwa district, causing the delay in transmission of results.

The Minister of Health, Dr Jane Ruth Aceng urged all health workers to embrace the training provided by the WHO in order to contain the current Marburg outbreak and prepare for future outbreaks. She said this during her visit to Kapchorwa district hospital, to commission the Mobile Laboratory. “The laboratory provides an opportunity for us to provide patients with their test results in the shortest time possible to avoid anxiety and unnecessary pressure,” she said.

Dr Aceng further appreciated the support from WHO, UNICEF, MSF, Uganda Red Cross during the outbreak up until it is declared over. She particularly thanked WHO for providing leadership during outbreak responses adding that, Uganda is recognized as a model country in disease outbreak response due to the technical and financial support of WHO.

The Acting WHO Country Representative in Uganda, Dr Jack Abdoulie commended government and Kween and Kapchorwa districts leadership for effectively controlling the Marburg outbreak. He further commended the partners for working with Ministry of Health saying, “With this outbreak, we have witnessed what can happen if you have strong partnerships, coordination and commitment”, he said.

Dr Jack further pointed out that in order to control outbreaks such as the current one, capacity of health workers needs to be built, alluding to the mobile laboratory deployed in the district. He urged partners to build the capacity of local health workers before withdrawing from the districts.

Ministry of Health notified WHO of the Marburg outbreak on 19 October 2017. WHO and partners provided financial and technical support. This is through surveillance, case management, social mobilization, water and sanitation and logistical support. Further to this, community health workers and village health teams have been trained on the different aspects of the response. This is to build the capacity for the district health systems to respond to future outbreaks and also any other health emergencies of public health concern.

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