David Mawazo, an eggs trader at Mpondwe, says the people have gotten used to the virus disease since it has been talked about since August 2018. Mawazo says people in the area are not bothered because the assumption is that all the Congolese nationals who cross into Uganda are screened first at the seven screening points at the border line.
A section of Kasese
residents are seemingly unbothered about the deadly Ebola Virus Disease (EVD)
despite the fact that a case has been confirmed in the district. On Friday, a
nine-year-old girl hailing from the Eastern Part of the Democratic Republic of
Congo was pronounced dead at the Bwera Ebola Treatment Unit – ETU, a day after being
admitted at the facility.
The girl who was strapped
on the back of her mother was intercepted by frontline health workers at
Mpondwe Ebola Screening point after her body temperature was abnormally high,
at 40 degrees. The deceased brings the number of Ebola cases to four, since
another three people succumbed to the same disease in June this year in Kasese
district, all of them Congolese.
Uganda is one of the countries listed by WHO as being at risk of Ebola
infection considering the fact that it neighbors DRC, which has been grappling
with the monstrous disease for more than a year now. By Friday evening, officials from Uganda and DRC had agreed that the deceased
girl should be given a decent burial at her ancestral home in the DRC by
medical personnel although the body was yet to be picked by DRC officials.
People Not Bothered
On Friday, URN spent the
better part of day at Mpondwe border market and it was business as usual. Thousands
of people were strolling in and out of Uganda and DRC to transact. Statistics
indicate that close to 20,000 people cross to and from Uganda on market days on
Tuesday and Friday.
Surprisingly, the situation was “abnormally normal”. In fact, most of the
people URN talked to didn’t even know that another person had tested positive
to Ebola and subsequently died in Kasese. Other than the major screening point at Mpondwe border point, there is no other
feature around Mpondwe market that creates awareness about the disease.
People move freely and are congested in the market. URN saw so many people
greeting each other by shaking hands as others were hugging. The World Health Organisation (WHO) discourages large crowds and shaking of
hands, hugging and close body contact in an area where an Ebola index has been
David Mawazo, an eggs trader at Mpondwe, says the people have gotten used to
the virus disease since it has been talked about since August 2018. Mawazo says people in the area are not bothered because the assumption is that
all the Congolese nationals who cross into Uganda are screened first at the
seven screening points at the border line.
//Cue in: “Esyathukalengekanaya thuthi…”
Cue out: “….ambuli ibbwa kyabiribya worse.”//
A similar argument is advanced by Cosmas Muhindo, a resident of Karambi Sub
County that is at the extreme end of the country bordering the DRC. Muhindo says their hope is that all the people who cross into the DRC are
screened and proven free of the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD).
//Cue in: “Thukabya ithunasi thuthi….”
Cue out: “….bethu abakalhwa eyisirya.”//
Yonah Kighoma, another trader at Mpondwe, says much as there are seven
designated entry points where people are tested before they enter into Uganda,
there are several other entry points, which people use to enter the country
without any screening.
//Cue in: “It’s not everybody…”
Cue out: “….is affected.”//
Uganda shares a porous border with DRC and nationals of both countries own
families and run errands across the border lines. Kighoma says many of the Congolese nationals are yet to believe that Ebola is a
viral disease. They instead attribute the monstrous disease to superstition and
witch craft meant to destabilize the North Kivu Province.
According to Kighoma, some Congolese believe the argument that there is Ebola
in the DRC is a ploy to disorganize the people in the North Kivu Province so
that they don’t pile pressure on the Kinshansha government.
//Cue in: “We do associate…”
Cue out: “…disease is there.”//
Dr. Loice Kabyanga, the Case Management Officer at Bwera Hospital, confirmed
that indeed some Ugandans have started adopting the notion that Ebola is a hoax
created to fleece money from development partners.
//Cue in: “We have also noted…..”
Cue out: “…..a lot of sensitisation.”//
As of August 6, a total of 2,781 Ebola cases had been reported in the DRC.
1,866 cases have so far died while 94 probable cases are being monitored in
this Eastern Part of the DRC.