Kampala, Uganda: On Wednesday Ms. Natalie E. Brown the United States of America to Uganda seconded a decision taken by her country to avail funding through agencies to fight the current Ebola Virus Disease epidemic over Uganda’s Government citing misappropriation.
Important to note.
US has availed $22.3 million (about Shs 83 Billion) to Uganda since the outbreak of the viral hemorrhagic fever was declared on September 20, 2022. Of this money, $5.5 million was allocated to Baylor Uganda to fund contact tracing, alert management, and training laboratory staff on infection prevention and control.
US$3.8 million has been allocated to the Infectious Disease Institute (IDI) to offer emergency medical services and support dignified burials whereas $6.4 million has been offered to UN agencies such as the World Health Organization and UNICEF for coordination, waste management, supporting survivors, and community engagement among others.
Addressing journalists today Wednesday, Natalie said they had already released $6 million to the ministry of Health and dispatched the bulk of the money through other entities due to the concern that most of the money released to the government usually ends up stolen by the officials.
“We do work with partners here, they are located nationwide and they have contacts on the ground, the structures to share a response. But I think a very real concern, and I think every Ugandan shares this, is the issue of corruption in Uganda. There was a report released by the IGG about the cost of corruption and how people will say ‘leaking’ donor-associated funds from where they need to go…This is a very real and serious challenge. And that is also one of the reasons why we work with so many partners instead of providing budgetary support,” said Natalie.
While this is being done this way, the Health minister, Dr Jane Ruth Aceng cried out that her team needs to be allocated money directly in order to implement control activities in time. In her statement to parliament on Wednesday, the minister said since the beginning of the outbreak, no funding has been provided to support the response of the ministry despite, a clear response plan, which is affecting the speed of the response.
“Partners usually inquire about government input before they declare their resources. We are seeing partners declaring resources mobilized on social media, which resources we do not have information about,” Aceng’s statement reads in part saying that they need Shs. 76 billion.
Natalie says considering how expensive the response is, the government needs to allocate money to the ministry as combating the epidemic requires collective effort.
“For this response, the president made a commitment for other funds. We encourage the ministry of Finance and others to make the funds available for the ministry of Health response. We also appeal to everyone in government and everyone involved to really do what they can to clamp down on corruption. This costs everyone when these funds are leaking out into someone’s pockets instead of the communities and supporting resources,” she said
As of today, the ministry of Health figures indicated that 131 people had been confirmed Ebola positive and three new cases of death were recorded bringing the total number of deaths to 46. Also, 2,183 contacts of cases were listed for follow-up.
Ebola vaccine trials
Meanwhile, the ministry of Health is set to trial three vaccines for the treatment of Ebola. These include Oxford from the United Kingdom, Sabin and Merck from USA which shall be evaluated for their efficacy.
The state minister for Health (primary health care), Margaret Muhanga told MPs “we plan to vaccinate contacts of 150 confirmed cases (3,000) initially. The trial preparation has been concluded and we estimate that we may begin the trial in two weeks’ time.”
Muhanga said the pandemic has been politicised by some politicians including MPs who have continued to confuse the public that Ebola doesn’t exist in Uganda.
“Some politicians including those in this August House are confusing the public that there is no Ebola epidemic in this country, that this is government propaganda of mobilizing resources,” said Muhanga.
Speaker Anita Among implored Muhanga to name and shame the MPs who made such statements, saying this only encourages Ebola victims to seek the services of witch doctors.
Among further said that the accused MPs will be referred to the disciplinary committee. Muhanga tabled a document that included quotes by Rubaga North MP, Abubaker Kawalya during a recent talk show on CBS radio.