20 September, 2012

Uganda: with Ebola control and containment in Mind

With the recent Ebola outbreak killing at least 17 people and causing over 400 to be hospitalized in Uganda, in Kibaale District in particular - one wonders if the country, or any other country for that matter, can manage a serious Ebola outbreak. During the outbreak, public rallies and the shaking of hands in Kibaale District were banned. Would such measures help? How can they be enforced?

Imagine if the epicenter of an outbreak is in Kampala; in the sprawling, very crowded and congested Owino outdoor market with over half-a-million vendors; which is close to another very crowded market: Nakivubo Parkyard Market; and is also close to a congested taxi park and a stadium - how does the 'no shaking of hands' help? How can the Ugandan authority stop people from entering these crowded areas? The other main problem for a country such as Uganda, is the very easy-going sexual permissiveness of its culture; the authorities, can, in a way, enforce the 'no shaking of hands' and disperse crowds, but there is no way they can control promiscuity and how its people get close to each other and do privately.

Kampala is a city which is so crowded and in many parts, so congested, that moving across it and from one point to another can be a real nightmare. In the very crowded streets and the congested markets such as Owino, you can not avoid touching, pressing and squeezing others. It is no different when using public transport: for most, they either have to use the very dangerous Boda Bodas - which forces them to hold tight on to the motorcycles and almost hug the driver; or use a matatu, a minivan, which are always packed to the full with passengers squeezing against each other and breathing down each others neck.

For even the very wealthy, developed countries -  a serious Ebola outbreak would be extremely daunting and straining. But, for a country as poor and with a very meager of resources as Uganda - a serious, major outbreak in Kampala would be almost impossible to tackle and contain. The country does not have the resources or the means for that. One can only pray and hope that no such outbreak, in such crowded and congested areas happen. Meantime, the Ugandan authority with as much help and assistance from other countries and international bodies, should be prepared for such an outbreak. Ugandans, all Ugandans, must be alert in reporting any suspicious symptoms or disease;  and should an outbreak occur, especially in Kampala, they should very helpful and be very cooperative in enforcing any measures or action plan, the authorities come up with.

+ Inform Africa
+ Science News  
+ Doctors Without Borders
+ Nature.com 

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