Govt starts building 5 border health units


By STEPHEN HOSTAGE

The Ministry of Health says the Covid-19 pandemic has forced government to build five health facilities at five border-crossing points to screen travelers for communicable diseases.

In an interview on Thursday, Health minister Jane Ruth Aceng said they started erecting the facilities six months ago at Elegu, Busia, Mirama hills, Mutukula, and Malaba border points.

Dr Aceng said the projects will be executed in a phased manner and eventually cover all the 53 border-entry points across the country.
“Port health is standard practice in all countries for screening incoming and outgoing travelers for diseases, not only Covid-19, but as guided by international health regulations,” she said.

During a webinar session to commemorate the International Disaster Risk Reduction Day on Thursday, Dr Johnson Nkem, a United Nations Development Program (UNDP) senior advisor on technical issues, said the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic last year revealed that besides natural disasters like floods, droughts, and landslides, Covid-19 too, had become a medical emergency.
The Internet session was organized by the Makerere University School of Public Health.

Measures
“The outbreak of Covid-19 created an emergency and some of the things we did was to strength government’s response system. We got some money from Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to improve testing in hotspots, including borderland areas, ”he said.

He said diseases like Ebola, which have previously struck the country and killed many people, could have been imported by infected refugees who were fleeing their countries for safety unaware that they are infected, but had they been screened at the border, the diseases could have been detected early.

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He said instead of looking at only natural disasters as emergencies, there should be continuous system for tracking all disasters, including disease outbreaks, so as to come up with comprehensive risk governance and management systems.

Kerem Alp, the Turkish ambassador to Uganda, said in 2009 following both natural and human disasters in the Turkey, its government created a Disaster and Emmergency Management Authority with 81 provincial branches.
He said to demonstrate how seriously Turkey considers climate change, the country on Tuesday established a Ministry of Climate Change.

He said Turkey has dedicated 2021 for creating disaster awareness.
He said they are willing to bring Turkish lecturers to Uganda to train Ugandans in climate change awareness.

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