It is striking that the commonest Ebola viruses that have spread to humans from their animal reservoir are the Zaire, Sudan and Bundibugyo viruses. The first question to ask, therefore, is: does Uganda have adequate strategies for infection prevention and control at the community and health facility levels?
But my own biggest questions to the ministries of health and scientists in DRC, Sudan and Uganda are: how come we frequently have this common interaction between animal reservoirs and humans? Is it cultural? Is it the hunting patterns? Even then, what has changed in recent years?
Are there specific populations that are frequenting the jungles in Uganda, Sudan and DRC, either in line of duty, in search of a livelihood or food and hence come into close contacts with animal reservoirs? If yes, has there been any sensitization about infection prevention?
Are there any infection control facilities for the communities? Is there more mixing of the populations in DRC, Uganda and Sudan than in the past? Which are these populations groups that could be starting these outbreaks?
I do not as yet have the answers to these questions, but surely we need to seriously start asking ourselves even tougher questions! WHO’s revised international health regulations require that states establish core capacities to address such emergencies at national, sub-national, health facility and community levels, as well as at border crossings.
Is Uganda compliant with the requirements of the revised international health regulations? The era has passed in which we merely implement reactive instead of proactive approaches.
We cannot continue addressing one crisis after another and go into a slumber when it has blown over only to wake up to manage another crisis. Something needs to be done, and done urgently!