By Stephen Kalema

The Ministry of Health, together with World Health Organisation (WHO) is to vaccinate over 1,500 healthcare and frontline workers.

The drive is aimed at protecting the healthcare workers in high risk areas of the country especially at the border of Uganda and Democratic Republic of Congo.

According to health minister Jane Ruth Aceng, this is an exercise will commence on Monday.

“The vaccination is only targeting frontline health workers who are highest risk of contracting Ebola Virus Disease (EVD). The vaccine will not be availed to the general population,” Aceng said during a press briefing at the Uganda Media Centre.

“The vaccine is therefore genetically modified organism that is able to replicate and cause antibody by production against the ebola virus but does not cause Ebola Virus Diseases,” Aceng explains the vaccine

Currently, National Medical Stores has only 2,100 doses of the Ebola Vaccine (rVSV) with another 900 in transit, according to Dr Henry Mwebesa, the Acting Director General Ministry of Health.

He, however, cautioned one would have to get a second shot after a year.

The vaccination exercise is going to be conducted in seven districts of Kabarole, Bundibugyo, Ntoroko Wakiso and Kampala.

According to Aceng, the drug is very safe and has been used in Guinea, Sierra Leone and DRC and in all countries no issues whatsoever about its safety has ever risen.

The drug was confirmed by Ministry of Health, Makerere University School of Public Health Institutional Review Board, Uganda National Council of Sciences and Technology (UNCST) and National Drug Authority (NDA)

Dr Yonas Tegegn, a representative WHO confirmed that Uganda is still safe so far no Ebola case has been detected. However, due to cross border relations, the level of movements have been high traditionally due to visits to relatives, looking for safety, trade and medical attention. Because of this, the public health risk of cross boarder transmission of Ebola to Uganda was assessed to very high.

In August this year Ebola outbreak in DRC was confirmed. Currently north-eastern provinces which it borders with Uganda, Rwanda and South Sudan are effected and as of November 1, a total of 285 cumulative cases, 250 confirmed cases and 180 death were registered.  Forty one suspected cases are under investigations

According to minister the affected two provinces of North Kivu and Musienene are only 100km from Uganda’s boarder districts; Kabarole, Bunyangabo, Kasese, Bundibugyo, Hoima, Arua and Ntoroko.