BWERA, Uganda — The isolation ward for Ebola patients is a tent erected in the garden of the local hospital. Gloves are given out sparingly to health workers. And when the second person in this Uganda border town died after the virus outbreak spread from neighboring Congo, the hospital for several hours couldn’t find a vehicle to take away
“We don’t really have an isolation ward,” the Bwera Hospital’s administrator, Pedson Buthalha, told The Associated Press. “It’s just a tent. To be honest, we can’t accommodate more than five people.”
Medical workers leading Uganda’s effort against Ebola lament what they call limited support in the days since infected members of a Congolese-Ugandan family showed up, one vomiting blood. Three have
While Ugandan authorities praise the health workers as “heroes” and say they are prepared to contain the virus, some workers disagree, wondering where the millions of dollars spent on preparing for Ebola have gone if a hospital on the front line lacks
“Even the gloves are not enough,” the hospital administrator said Thursday. “I give them out small small.” A nurse nodded in agreement.
The World Health Organization on Friday said the Ebola outbreak is an “extraordinary event” of deep concern but does not yet merit being declared a global emergency . Such a declaration typically triggers more funding, resources and political attention. WHO said $54 million is needed to stop the outbreak.
And yet both Congo and Uganda appeared to lobby against a declaration, with Congo counting the Uganda-related Ebola cases as its own, saying Congo was where the family members began developing symptoms. Ugandan authorities on Friday said they had only one suspected Ebola case remaining in the country.
More than 1,400 people have died since this outbreak was declared in August in eastern Congo, one of the world’s most turbulent regions, where rebel attacks and community resistance have hurt Ebola response work. The virus can spread quickly via close contact with bodily fluids of those infected and can be fatal in up to 90% of cases, and identifying people who might have been exposed
While Ugandan health workers aren’t facing the violent attacks that have killed several Ebola responders in Congo, they remain at risk as they seek to isolate, test and treat for the virus. Basic equipment such as gloves is essential.
At least two nurses at Bwera Hospital might have been exposed as they offered first aid to the infected family. They and some other contacts have since been quarantined in their homes. WHO says at least 112 such contacts have been identified in Uganda since the outbreak crossed the nearby border.
A nurse, who spoke on condition of anonymity to avoid possible retribution, questioned why some people who might have been exposed to Ebola are allowed to stay at home.
“I wish we could coordinate,” the hospital administrator said of the apparent confusion over how to manage the outbreak.