On Thursday, March 31, the Global Fund welcomed Uganda’s Health minister, Dr Jane Ruth Aceng to speak at an information session on Pandemic Preparedness and Response in Uganda. The session was premised on a theme titled, “Strengthening epidemic prevention, detection and response and lessons learnt from Covid 19.”
The Executive Director of the Global Fund to fight HIV, TB and Malaria, Mr Peter Sands introduced the session and appreciated Uganda and the Minister of Health for exercising effective leadership and for putting in place systems to ensure that Ugandans are protected from the worst effects of the Pandemic.
In her speech, Health Minister, Dr Jane Ruth Aceng said, Uganda has developed some impressive capacities in the areas of surveillance, laboratories, emergency responses, operations and risk communications.
“Capabilities (have been developed) including early warning systems, event-based surveillance as well as national reference laboratories which are well equipped to quickly detect all the international health regulatory priority pathogens and provide technical support to other African countries.”
“Regarding emergency response task capacity, Uganda has an activity public health emergency operations centre at both national and regional levels. The emergency operational centre leadership staff and technology have capability to rapidly coordinate the response to public health emergencies with effective situational awareness systems linked to all districts,” she said.
The Centres for Disease Control Director for Uganda, Dr Lisa Nelson also shared an overview that highlighted key aspects of the state of Uganda’s health sector and the various initiatives that have been taken to strengthen the health sector and the challenges that are still existing.
Uganda’s Health minister however added that despite some of the progress made, there is difficulty in closing some of the core international Health regulatory capacities to prevent, detect and respond to public health emergencies due to competing priorities and costs among others.
“It is exciting to know that the Global Fund changed lenses and when it came to a Pandemic like COVID 19, the focus was not on just the three diseases but also on early detections, laboratory systems and health systems strengthening for resilience,” she said.
The Health minister also added that there are areas that need to be supported to sustain the health system gains achieved in the past two decades.
Some of these include diagnostics, early pathogen detection, characterization and genomic sequencing. She singled out the need for enhancing tertiary care, specifically for severe illnesses, such as severe sepsis manifesting in Ebola virus disease and severe respiratory distress that manifests in the Covid 19 disease.
She also highlighted the need for investments for both severe sepsis and severe respiratory distress as these overlap for care for other infectious diseases and non-communicable diseases.