What you need to know

ebola Uganda
UNICEF Uganda/2019/Bongyereirwe

What is the Ebola?

Ebola is a serious and often deadly disease. Symptoms include high fever and bleeding through body openings. 

Ebola is very infectious, kills in a short time BUT can be prevented through early treatment with trained health professionals.

What are the signs and symptoms of Ebola?

  • Sudden onset of fever
  • Headache
  • Intense body weakness
  • Muscle pain
  • Sore throat
  • Vomiting
  • Bloody diarrhoea or urine
  • Bleeding from body openings
Ebola signs and symptoms

How does Ebola spread?

  • Ebola is spread through direct physical contact with body fluids like blood, saliva, stool, vomit, urine and sweat of an infected person or animal.
  • Ebola can also be spread through using skin piercing instruments that have been used by a person infected with Ebola.
  • Ebola can also be transmitted through by touching people or animals that have died from Ebola.
Spread of Ebola

How can you protect yourself from Ebola?

  • Report all suspected cases to the nearest health facility immediately.
  • For further information send a FREE SMS to U-report on: 8500 or call toll-free on: 0800 100 066.
  • People who are suspected to have died from Ebola must be buried immediately, by a trained Ministry of Health burial team to prevent the spread of Ebola.
  • Disinfect the bedding and clothing of any person suspected to have died from Ebola with JIK.
  • Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and clean water after handling a patient infected with Ebola or the body of a person who has died from Ebola. 
  • Avoid communal washing of hands during funeral rites.
  • People suspected to be suffering from Ebola should be taken to the nearest health facility immediately. 
  • Avoid direct contact with body fluids of a person suspected to be suffering from Ebola by using protective materials e.g. gloves and masks.
  • People handling the body of a person who is suspected to have died of Ebola should wear strong protective materials like gloves and masks.
  • Avoid touching or eating bush meat especially from monkeys, bats, baboons, gorillas and chimpanzees. 
Ebola prevention
Ebola prevention

Uganda remains at risk and on high alert for importation of Ebola cases from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). In the districts bordering the DRC from Koboko District in the North-Western corner of Uganda to Kisoro District in the South-Western corner of Uganda there are formal and informal points of entry and there is frequent movement of populations due to trade, family ties, and persons fleeing violence in DRC. In July 2019 alone, approximately one million people were reported to have crossed the border for some of these routine movements.

On 17 July 2019, the DRC outbreak was declared a Public Health Event of International Concern (PHEIC), triggering significant efforts by the Government of Uganda (GoU) and its partners. In August 2018, UNICEF rapidly embarked on intensive public awareness, community engagement, surveillance, infection prevention and control measures – during the preparedness phase in the high-risk districts.

How is UNICEF helping to fight the spread of Ebola?

UNICEF’s response and preparedness for Ebola in Kasese and over 24 high-risk districts (Arua, Kasese, Kanungu, Rubirizi, Rukungiri, Kyegegwa, Kisoro, Kamwenge, Kabarole, Bunyangabu, Bundibugyo, Ntoroko, Wakiso, Kampala, Nebbi, Pakwach, Zombo, Buliisa, Hoima, Kagadi, Kikuube, Kyenjojo, Kabale and Isingiro), focuses on the following areas; Risk Communication to increase public awareness to prevent Ebola, Social Mobilisation to engage different institutional influencers like religious and cultural leaders and Community Engagement to improve participation of most at risk communities. Other areas of interventions and support include: Infection Prevention and Control (IPC)/WASH especially in provision of safe water and promoting handwashing with soap, Infant and Young Child Feeding (IYCF)/Nutrition in the context of Ebola and Psychosocial Support and Child Protection. 

Engaging communities and creating awareness

Risk communication aims at timely information sharing and promotion of protective behaviours and practices to prevent outbreaks like Ebola, reduce anxiety by communicating technically correct messages through credible sources and mobilizing communities to identify and report suspicious cases rapidly.

As such, UNICEF and partners are supporting priority high-risk districts to take the necessary precautions and adopt preventive and protection measures against Ebola through dissemination of critical information and messages especially in local languages using multiple platforms including radio, television, newspapers and social media. 

“One of the best weapons for Ebola is a prepared and well-informed community with good health care seeking behaviours,”

Dr. Kabanda Richard, Commissioner, Ministry of Health, Health Promotion Education & Communication
ebola preparedness and response
UNICEF Uganda/2019/Bongyereirwe
ebola preparedness and response
UNICEF Uganda/2019/Kabuye

In addition, UNICEF is supporting District Health Educators (DHE) in high-risk districts to conduct outreach activities with different groups, including corporate and business sectors, educational facilities, prisons, hostels and guest-houses. Community dialogues and interpersonal communication activities are also promoted by Village Health Team (VHT) members who conduct house-to-house visits and community meetings in Kasese, Kisoro, Kanungu, Rubirizi and Arua districts. 

Preventing Ebola in schools

UNICEF continues to leverage educational structures as avenues for information dissemination, community engagement, and engagement with community-based early learning centres, and primary and secondary schools to pass Ebola messages during school assemblies and parent-teacher association meetings. The schools are utilized as strategic places for distribution of life saving materials like posters, leaflets, flyers, and job aid cards and hand washing facilities in high-risk districts. 

ebola preparedness and response
UNICEF Uganda/2019/Bongyereirwe
ebola preparedness and response
UNICEF Uganda/2019/Adriko

Preventing and controlling infections through Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) interventions  

To prevent Ebola transmission in health facilities, institutions and communities, UNICEF and partners continue to support rapid assessments, procurement and distribution of essential Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) supplies, orient and mentor health workers and WASH resource persons on infection, prevention and control (IPC), contribute to construction and/or rehabilitation of water supply and sanitation facilities in health facilities, and promote hand washing practices in public spaces. 

Another intervention prioritized is the training and mentorship of health workers on chlorine mixing, preparation, and testing of various concentrations of chlorine, as well as operating chlorine generators provided by UNICEF during the preparedness phase of the Ebola emergency.

ebola preparedness and response
UNICEF Uganda/2019/Bongyereirwe

Infant and Young Child Feeding (IYCF) in the context of Ebola

During disease outbreaks like Ebola, children bear the brunt more than adults. UNICEF and partners supported the update of national guidelines and protocols in line with the latest evidence, development of implementation tools and building the capacity of frontline health workers and implementing partners at Ebola Treatment Units (ETUs) and high-risk districts to provide lifesaving nutrition services for infants and young children affected by Ebola.

Health workers were oriented on key recommendations on nutrition in Ebola at the Ebola Treatment Units in high risk districts. Participants were also provided with information on the availability of and access to ready-to-use infant formula (RUIF) for children under-6 months with an Ebola positive mother. 

At the national level, UNICEF continues to support the Ministry of Health with adapting training modules on IYCF, nutrition assessment and management of children with severe acute malnutrition that may also be affected with Ebola.

Providing psychosocial support for children affected by Ebola

In Kasese and Arua districts, UNICEF has maintained continuous presence to identify the protection concerns of children in Ebola outbreaks, including symptoms of distress and family separation. Trainings on protection concerns for children in Ebola outbreaks and the provision of basic psychosocial support was conducted in Kasese District, targeting over 170 para-social workers, providing them with basic information on Ebola, the protection of children in Ebola outbreaks, child protection risks and interventions, the impact of Ebola on the psychosocial well being of children, and the need for psychological first aid. The training was designed to build the capacity of para-social workers in the protection of children and provision of psychosocial support during Ebola outbreaks.