Uganda’s ministry of health says a fourth health worker has died from the spreading Ebola outbreak that has killed 11 people. The outbreak of the Sudan strain of the virus began in September but health authorities are also testing a suspected case of the Zaire strain.
Fifty-eight-year-old Margaret Nabisubi, an anesthetic officer, is Uganda’s fourth health worker to succumb to the deadly Ebola Sudan virus.
Nabisubi reportedly battled the disease for 17 days. Dr. Sam Oledo, the president of the Uganda Medical Association, says Nabisubi was to retire in two years.
The Uganda Medical Association has been spearheading a call to Uganda’s ministry of health to provide adequate protective gear to health workers and says there has been a good response. Oledo describes the state of hospitalized health workers.
“It’s painful because there is no amount of words that can replace colleagues whom you’ve been working with. And it’s our prayer that the family is compensated,” said Oledo. “We are glad that our other colleagues, who were doing so bad. About three-four days ago, they are improving. So we are glad that those who were diahorrating 36 times a day, they are now having about three or four motions, which is good to us.”
Uganda registered its first case of the Ebola Sudan strain September 20th in the Mubende district and the disease has spread to four other districts, Kassanda, Kyegegwa, Bunyangabu and now Kagadi.
The ministry of health has since moved all affected health workers into supportive management treatment at the FortPortal specialized unit.
But Dr. Tonny Kapsandui, program manager for Amref Health, notes that as more health workers succumb to Ebola, it sends fear and panic among health workers in an already ill-prepared health system.
Kapsandui also says Uganda may have to brace for more Ebola cases if a suspected case of the Congo Crimean strain is confirmed in Amuru district in Northern Uganda.
“And we got information from our project manager there, that there’s a case in Amuru. And that interestingly is the Congo Crimean variant. Not the South Sudan. We expect South Sudan most likely to show up in Amuru because it’s at the border with South Sudan. But, it’s the Congo variant.”
The ministry of health has yet to confirm the new variant case. If confirmed, it will be exactly three years since Uganda reported a case of Ebola Zaire virus. There’s still no current and effective vaccine.
The Sudan Ebola strain was first reported in southern Sudan in 1976. Although several outbreaks have been reported since then in both Uganda and Sudan, the deadliest outbreak in Uganda was in 2000, claiming over 200 lives.