UN beefs up efforts to battle Marburg fever

Kampala: To avoid the rapid spread of deadly Marburg hemorrhagic fever in Uganda, UN agencies are beefing up the efforts to fight the virulent disease that has so far left one person dead and over 109 others under close monitoring.

The United Nations Children's Fund (Unicef) and the World Health Organization (WHO) in a joint statement issued here Wednesday said they are responding to the outbreak by supporting areas of social mobilisation geared towards creating more awareness about the disease, technical assistance as well as logistical support for contact tracing, Xinhua reported.

"We are providing technical expertise and financial support to ensure that messaging is directed through the mass media, social networks as well as use of information education and Communication materials," Aida Girma, Unicef representative, said.

"WHO is providing technical support and has deployed a team of experts from the WHO regional office to support national and district response," said Fisseha Solomon, medical officer, disaster preparedness.

Unicef will also train health workers to equip them with the right information and knowledge about the disease.

The agencies will also play a key role in strengthening surveillance at community and facility level through mTrac, a Unicef innovation that supports the ministry of health in nationwide disease surveillance and medicine tracking system to over 20,000 health workers at all 3,500 government health facilities.

People with Marburg experience fever, headache and muscle pain. Five days later, a rash across the chest, back and stomach may be observed. Nausea, vomiting, chest pain, sore throat, abdominal pain and diarrhoea may also occur.

It is spread when one gets in contact with body fluids like blood, vomitus of those affected.

Since the reported outbreak of Marburg in Uganda Oct 5, only one case was confirmed. Ministry of Health puts the number of contact cases to 109 as of Oct 7. Blood samples of 12 suspected cases, including the brother of the deceased that had shown symptoms of the disease, turned out negative.

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