Uganda to vaccinate health workers against Ebola

A Congolese health worker administers Ebola vaccine to a woman who had contact with an Ebola sufferer in the village of Mangina in North Kivu province of the Democratic Republic of Congo, August 18, 2018. (REUTERS)
Updated 07 November 2018
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Uganda to vaccinate health workers against Ebola

  • Concerns that an undiagnosed Ebola patient may arrive at a health facility seeking treatment led to the decision to vaccinate health care workers at the highest risk of contracting the highly-infectious hemorrhagic fever, in 40 facilities near the border
  • The drug was donated free of charge to the Ugandan government by its manufacturer, Merck

KAMPALA: Uganda will begin vaccinating frontline health workers against Ebola next week as the threat increases of the deadly virus spreading from neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo, the health minister said Friday.
An outbreak of Ebola in the DRC has claimed 180 lives so far, and with high numbers of people moving across the border “the public health risk of cross-border transmission of Ebola to Uganda was assessed to be very high,” according to minister Jane Ruth Aceng.
“Compassionate use of the Ebola vaccine for health care and frontline workers,” will begin on Monday, she told journalists.
It will be the first time the vaccine is used in a country not in the midst of an active Ebola outbreak.
The DRC’s health ministry said Thursday it had recorded 285 possible Ebola cases in the highly-restive northeastern region of North Kivu, which is home to a clutch of armed groups.
It is the tenth outbreak of Ebola in the country, then called Zaire, where the disease was first detected in 1976.
More than 25,000 people have received an experimental vaccine in the DRC since August.
Yonas Tegegn Woldemariam, the World Health Organization representative in Uganda said the vaccine — rVSV-ZEBOV — was close to 100 percent effective and carried few risks.

“There have been no major risks recorded up to now, just a normal reaction to a vaccine,” he said.
The drug targets the Zaire virus species, the most “vicious of the Ebola types,” Woldemariam said.
Concerns that an undiagnosed Ebola patient may arrive at a health facility seeking treatment led to the decision to vaccinate health care workers at the highest risk of contracting the highly-infectious hemorrhagic fever, in 40 facilities near the border.
Authorities insist vaccination will be totally voluntary and that frontline workers — who may include hospital cleaners and other auxilliary staff — would need to give “informed consent.”
“Currently 2,100 doses of the rVSV vaccine are available,” Aceng said, with plans in place to increase that to 3,000.
Although the “investigational vaccine” has not yet been licensed it was used in previous Ebola outbreaks in Guinea, Sierra Leone and DR Congo at the recommendation of the WHO’s group of experts.
The drug was donated free of charge to the Ugandan government by its manufacturer, Merck.
In the worst Ebola epidemic to date, the disease struck the West African states of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone in 2013-15, killing more than 11,300 people.


India scion Priyanka Gandhi lambasts Modi on home turf

Updated 6 min 9 sec ago
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India scion Priyanka Gandhi lambasts Modi on home turf

  • Priyanka Gandhi wrapped up a pre-election boat tour along the Ganges river on Wednesday, disembarking in Narendra Modi's home constituency

VARANASI, INDIA: The newest star in India's Nehru-Gandhi dynasty wrapped up a pre-election boat tour along the Ganges river on Wednesday, disembarking in Narendra Modi's home constituency to attack the prime minister's record.
Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, sister of Rahul Gandhi who wants to unseat Modi in elections starting on April 11, announced her long-awaited entry into politics in January, bolstering the hopes of the opposition Congress party, which has been dominated by her family for generations.
Their father was Rajiv Gandhi, assassinated in 1991, their grandmother Indira Gandhi, killed by her Sikh bodyguards in 1984, and their great-grandfather Jawaharlal Nehru, India's first prime minister.
Arriving after her three-day cruise in Varanasi, the northern holy city famous for its riverside cremations where Modi stood for election in 2014, Priyanka said people must stand up against his "anti-people" policies.
"You can bring about a change. You must raise your voice for a new government who will make policies for you and understand your problems," the 47-year-old said.
"The farmers of this country are suffering. He is neck-deep in debt and is committing suicide. He does not get seeds and fertilisers on time, he is not getting the right price for his produce," she added.
The opposition has been targeting Modi's right-wing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) over a lack of jobs, slowing growth and the desperate situation of farmers in the lead-up to the gargantuan election which ends May 19.
The centre-left Congress party, which has ruled India for about half a century since the country became independent in 1947, was thrashed by the BJP five years ago, with Modi promising to create jobs, stamp out corruption, and bring "Achhe Din" ("Good Days").
Modi's party however has been boosted after India and arch-rival Pakistan lurched alarmingly close to war last month following a suicide bombing in Kashmir that killed 40 Indian troops.
Priyanka, who for years resisted calls to enter politics, launched her campaign in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh on Monday, hopping on to a motorboat on the Ganges river, which is considered sacred by the country's majority Hindu community.
The state is a part of the Hindi "cow belt" heartland of some 475 million people — nearly as many as the United States, Canada and Mexico combined — where the BJP has its core support base.