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Poznań, Poland - Morasko Kampus, room: 3.95
Preparedness and response to the risk of Ebola: border dynamics in South Western Uganda.
Following the confirmation of an Ebola index case in August 2018 in the neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo, Uganda’s Ministry of Health and development partners implemented a series of Ebola preparedness and response activities in line national strategy. Entry and exit posts were established at key border areas to monitor people crossing between Uganda and the DRC, ‘Ebola tents’ were erected in ‘high risk areas’; Ebola Treatment Centres were established (e.g. at Bwera hospital in Kasese district), broad community engagement activities promoted key prevention behaviours such as hand-washing, and front-line health workers were vaccinated using the investigational vaccine rVSV-ZEBOV. As part of the Social Science in Humanitarian Action Platform’s support to the Ebola response, we conducted rapid fieldwork (December 2018) to explore cross-border dynamics in Kasese district. We documented the experiences of response measures by interlocutors who live and work in border areas. Against a backdrop of continuous insecurity in North Kivu, the militarization of response activities at the Uganda border was evident. Small-scale traders described avoidance of formal border crossings in favor of unmonitored informal routes, localized corruption practices, the perception that Ebola was politically and financially motivated, and questions about the authenticity of the outbreak and its risk to Uganda. The complexity of implementing border control mechanisms for Ebola should not be underestimated. In conclusion, a number of key recommendations were made to strengthen community engagement and community-based surveillance, and to more effectively engage with different stakeholder groups including traders.