Kampala, Uganda: It should be remembered that a few days back the country received news of the death of Dr. Mohammed Ali, a Tanzanian national and student at Kampala International University and with Ebola Hemorrhagic Viral Fever (EHVF) in Uganda, several health workers have tested positive for EHVF.
Important to note.
As of 30th, October 2022, Ministry of Health released an update on Ebola as follows;
New deaths: 1, Cumulative: 8, Active cases on admission: 24, Contacts listed for follow up: 473, Cumulative confirmed cases: 38, New cases: 3.
It is against this background that Uganda Medical Association (UMA) has been in contact with members of the Association who are serving and affected at the frontlines and they have the following urgent concerns;
The safety and appropriate medical care of medical workers serving in the Ebola Treatment Units [ETUs] in the epidemic and the care of those who have been infected and hospitalized to date in different units.
Health workers at the frontline of managing patients of Ebola, have not yet signed or received any risk allowance from Government.
The Ministry of Health has not provided a clear compensation plan for health workers who are dedicated and risking their lives at the front lines in this tough battle against Ebola HVF, a disease with a very high fatality rate.
According to World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines on the remuneration and incentives for health workers managing epidemics/pandemics, regular and timely health worker salary payments must be maintained.
In addition, remuneration should be commensurate with the duties performed, with the working hours and other factors, such as additional professional hazards. Additional allowances are required to compensate for risks and to minimize attrition.
Lack of adequate and timely payment of health workers has been a primary cause of strikes that severely affect the capacity of the healthcare system to respond to outbreaks and maintain the
provision of essential health services.
According to the Workman’s Compensation Act, an employee who gets permanent incapacitation or death in line of duty, their families should receive an amount of money equivalent to the current salary the employee has been receiving multiplied by sixty.
We know that no money can buy life, but the families of health workers who have succumbed to disease in the line of duty can be supported in some way.
Its unfortunate that up to date, more than three years after medical colleagues who died due to Covid-19’s families have not been compensated despite the Presidential directives.
Health workers need to be trained formally in infection prevention and management of Ebola and this puts them at every high risk of being infected.
Mubende Regional Referral Hospital, with the current Ebola treatment unit is no longer a suitable environment for medical training, we are aware of the universities considerations to suspend the site for now, as a training site for senior house officers and we appreciate that.
The medical interns who are deployed at Mubende RRH are agitated, inexperienced, untrained and distressed after their colleagues contracted Ebola.
In this state of mind, in addition to the inadequate supervision, interns under training cannot receive proper mentorship and time with supervisors and due to their lack of adequate training, are at a much higher risk of contracting the disease.
Uganda Medical Association Recommendations
Health workers working in the Ebola treatment Units (ETU) should sign for and receive the risk allowances.
The Ministry of Health should provide a plan for specialized medical care for health workers who get infected with EHVF, since they are critical to the control of the epidemic, in addition to care of all patients and a clear compensation plan for health workers who may die in the line of duty.
U.M.A requests Ministry of Health to isolate interns for at least one month and later redeploy them after re-testing, to other internship sites rather than at the epicenters of the Epidemic.
U.M.A requests that The Ministry of Health should embrace the deployment of already trained and experienced heath workers in the management of Ebola EVHF. These can be availed through the already ongoing drive by U.M.A, and MoH should also provide formal training for health workers already managing Ebola patients.
The U.M.A requests that member(s) of the U.M.A with experience in managing Ebola epidemics and in epidemiology be co-opted on the Ebola Task Force to support the Ministry of Health in the fight.