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Cholera outbreak: Amuru heightens screening at Uganda-S.Sudan border

Police officers patrol the Elegu border point

Police officers patrol the Elegu border point

Amuru district has scaled up the mandatory screening of travellers entering Uganda through the Elegu border point from South Sudan over a cholera outbreak.

This comes after four Sudanese asylum seekers who had crossed into the country through Elegu on January 26 tested positive for cholera. The patients were part of 14 asylum seekers who had fled the ongoing conflict in Sudan’s capital Khartoum. Four of the confirmed cases and nine other contacts were hospitalized at Nyumanzi health center III in Adjumani district. 

Louis Patrick Lamot, the port health focal point person at Elegu border said in an interview that while screening has been going on routinely, the level of vigilance has now been heightened following the confirmed cholera cases.

Lamot says there has been a high influx of asylum seekers from Sudan and South Sudan which has necessitated the need for heightened vigilance at the border point. According to him, they screen 50-100 Sudanese asylum seekers daily escaping violence in parts of Sudan. 

“Screening is ongoing every day and that’s why we have been able to detect some cases. Apart from cholera, we are screening for other cases like suspected measles and TB, a lot is happening now,” said Lamot.

Lamot notes that they have also been able to receive 100 consignments of rapid diagnostic test (RDT) kits to boost testing of suspected cases of cholera at the border point. Equally, the Health ministry also disbursed 100 test kits to the Adjumani district health department.

Amuru district health officer (DHO) Dr Alfred Okello says while the district is striving to ensure that everyone entering through the border is screened, manpower shortage remains a big challenge to their efforts.

“We don’t have enough personnel to help in the screening and fight against cholera. At the moment we are improvising with the few staff, but we are also glad some partners are helping us,” Okello said.

He says the medical personnel haven’t reported any new or suspected cases of cholera adding that the 12 patients who were undergoing treatment in Adjumani district were discharged last week from the hospital.

Apollo Kagwa Okello, secretary for health in Amuru district local government says they have reactivated the task force that handled the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic to help in sensitization and monitoring. Okello notes that the district is also embarking on a massive sensitization drive to inform the community on good hygiene practices to help in the fight against cholera disease.

In 2016, an outbreak of cholera in Amuru district claimed the lives of two people and infected over 40 others in Atiak sub-county. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), cholera is an acute diarrheal infection caused by ingestion of food or water contaminated with the bacterium vibrio cholera.

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