KAMPALA, Uganda (AP) — Africa must plan to respond effectively to disease outbreaks without international help, a top public health official said Wednesday, warning that the continent of 1.3 billion people is “alone” during pandemics. .
As aid often never materializes, African nations must fill in the gaps in their response to outbreaks like Ebola in Uganda.said Ahmed Ogwell, acting director of the African Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“This is not the first outbreak of the Sudanese strain of Ebola virus. here in Africa and particularly here in Uganda,” he said. “Unfortunately, at this time we do not have rapid diagnostics for this particular strain. We don’t have the vaccines for that either.”
Ogwell was speaking in the Ugandan capital, Kampala, where African public health officials and others are meeting to plan cross-border cooperation in the Ebola response.
Uganda declared an Ebola outbreak on September 20.
Africa’s 54 countries have not received adequate international support in recent health crises, according to experts. Countries struggled to get vaccinated against COVID-19.
Ogwell lamented the failure of the international community to help African countries improve their ability to test for monkeypox and control its spread. He said no help has arrived in Africa, where more monkeypox deaths have been reported this year than anywhere else in the world.
“Recently, during the pandemic, when we saw the number of monkeypox cases growing here in Africa, we issued a global alert, but Africa received no help,” he said. “In fact, today, as we see the end of the pandemic, aid for monkeypox is still not reaching Africa. This means that we need to check the reality that is with us, and the reality for us is that when a public health crisis is big, like the pandemic, Africa is alone.”
The epicenter of the Ebola outbreak in Uganda is a rural community in central Uganda where health workers failed to quickly detect the contagious disease that manifests as viral haemorrhagic fever.
Although Ebola began to spread in August, officials initially described a “strange disease” that was killing people. Ebola has now infected 54 people and killed at least 19, including four health workers. One of his victims is a man who sought treatment at a Kampala hospital and died there.
Ebola can be difficult to detect at first because fever is also a symptom of malaria. Ebola spreads through contact with bodily fluids of an infected person or contaminated materials. Symptoms include fever, vomiting, diarrhea, muscle pain, and sometimes internal and external bleeding.
There is no proven vaccine for the Sudanese strain of Ebola. But plans are underway to test a possible vaccine in a small group of Ugandans who have had contact with Ebola patients.
Because Ebola is “a priority disease” for Africa, “the absence of rapid diagnostics and the absence of a vaccine means we have a gap in how we prioritize our diseases and the tools we need to respond to them,” according to Ogwell.
“As Africa, we must now do things differently, appreciating that most of the time we will be alone. However, knowing that we are alone should motivate us so that we can do things on our own, but not alone,” she said. “We must plan, prepare and respond effectively using our own resources, including our experts and institutions, and we must produce the health products that we have identified as a priority for this continent.”