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Our Global Voices Posts

Three Responders talk about their experiences in Uganda

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Protecting Uganda’s Border

Vance Brown at the border crossing between Uganda and Democratic Republic of Congo
Vance Brown at the border crossing between Uganda and Democratic Republic of Congo

Vance Brown, Ebola Coordinator and Deputy Director for the Division of Global Health Protection Program in Uganda. Vance and team provide technical support to the Government of Uganda to prevent, detect and respond to especially dangerous pathogens, including Ebola.

“It was 8:00 p.m. on a Friday when I got the call. CDC colleagues in the Democratic Republic of the Congo had urgent news: a known contact of an Ebola patient, thought to be at high risk of carrying Ebola, was headed to Kampala. It was close to Christmas, and with unrest around the elections, Ebola screening had been suspended on the DRC side of the border. I worked well into the early hours of the next morning, coordinating with the Ministry of Health, WHO, and other partners to find out more information. By 2:30 a.m., they were confident that they had found the contact—and with additional details, ruled that the individual was not an immediate risk and considered a secondary contact. It was a real test of our coordination and systems.”

“This response has a very unique aspect; it took 10 months for Uganda to experience the first imported cases of Ebola from neighboring DRC.  This put staff and systems through a long-term preparedness posture that needed to be ready to respond in rapid succession.  The fact that we had not actually seen a case of Ebola meant as much as we were in ‘response’ mode, much of our work focused on preparedness and building systems to quickly identify, isolate, and notify from frontline facilities to the central level.”

“Thankfully with the leadership of the Uganda Ministry of Health and partners on the ground those systems sprang into action and we were able to contain this outbreak at its source. The battle is not over and we will continue to adjust our focus as we continue to prepare for the next event. Credit to the Minister of Health Dr. Jane Ruth Aceng and the Incident Manager Dr. Allan Muruta and a host of exceptional responders, we have crossed a critical threshold of 21 days since the last high risk contact had exposure with the confirmed cases in Kasese but we know we need to remain prepared until the outbreak is contained in DRC. ”

Mpondwe border crossing between Uganda and Democratic Republic of Congo
Mpondwe border crossing between Uganda and Democratic Republic of Congo

Uganda “Home-Grown” Experience

Dr. “OJ”on a contact tracing visit to Maracha Hospital, West Nile, Uganda
Dr. “OJ”on a contact tracing visit to Maracha Hospital, West Nile, Uganda

Dr. Joseph “OJ” Ojwang is a Global Health Security Disease Detective with Division of Global Health Protection Program in Uganda CDC. Dr. Ojwang is deeply involved in the Ebola preparedness and response.

“Since June 2019, I have spent time working closely with the Kasese District Health Teams to visit facilities and communities at risk of the spreading Ebola. Together with other Team Members we rapidly set up an electronic system (Epi-Info), to track and monitor high-risk contacts, including the doctors and nurses, who originally treated the first confirmed case.”

“I’m a ‘home-grown’ disease detective and responder, tutored in the field by CDC’s finest public health experts. This is key to permanent institutionalization of Uganda’s surveillance and response capacity. It is now a sacred job to work closely with competent teams of disease surveillance, laboratory and Ebola treatment experts at Uganda’s Ministry of Health and other global partners.”

Confronting Ebola Threat

Vaccinating against Ebola

Rosalind Carter, GID

Rosalind Carter, Epidemiologist, Global Immunization Division
Rosalind Carter, Epidemiologist, Global Immunization Division

For the first time, an unlicensed Ebola vaccine tested in clinical trials during the West African outbreak is being offered under “compassionate use” to health care workers (HCWs) and front line workers (FLWs) at health facilities and border crossings in countries bordering Ebola hotspots in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). CDC is providing technical expertise and our experience continues to be valued in each new country undertaking Ebola vaccination.

Successfully implementing an experimental vaccine in field conditions and convincing HCW and FLW to receive a vaccine before a case occurred in Uganda was a major achievement. Several hours after we opened the first vaccination site in Ntoroko District, a health center in a remote area near Lake Albert, we successfully vaccinated the first participant, a senior clinical officer at the Health Center. When I asked why he had decided to take the vaccine he responded: “I was a medical officer during the 2008 outbreak of Ebola Bundibugyo in the next District. We did not have a vaccine then and I watched people die. Now you bring me a vaccine. Of course, I want it. In addition, I am making sure all my staff at the health center are getting it today. It will make us feel safe if this Ebola comes to our facility.” Throughout the day, he brought all of the nurses, clinical officers and laboratory staff to the vaccination site and stayed with them, providing emotional support for those who were scared and encouraged. It was an incredible display of leadership and caring—while also respecting individual level decision-making and the right of each person to consent to vaccine or not. It was a stressful time for the team supervising the work, but the inspiration of this first vaccination carried me through many long days and nights to come as we continued to roll out to new sites and new Districts.

Ebola Vaccine
Ebola Vaccine
Ebola training
Ebola training
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The Joint External Evaluation (JEE) Process: Assessing health security in Côte d’Ivoire

Serigne Ndiaye, CDC GHSA Program Director for Cote d'Ivoire, center, meets with community leaders

Conducting a JEE Côte d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast) is a small country in West Africa, neighboring Liberia, Guinea, Mali, Burkina Faso, and Ghana. It has a population of over 25 million people, about half of whom live in urban centers across the country. Diseases of great concern for the country include yellow fever, cholera, meningitis, measles, Read More >

Posted on by Serigne Ndiaye, CDC GHSA Program DirectorLeave a commentTags , , , , , ,

Taking Back the Lives That Tobacco Use Cuts Short: One Story from a Physician in Senegal

I went into medicine because I am passionate about helping others. I became an oncologist, a doctor who cares for people with cancer, because it gives me the opportunity to save lives and improve a patient’s health care every day. I practice in Senegal, my beautiful country of origin in West Africa. As a young Read More >

Posted on by Dr. Oumar Ba, Oncologist, Hôpital General Grand Yoff, DakarLeave a comment

Confronting the Silent Killer in Nepal

“We are measuring the blood pressure of many people who’ve never had their blood pressure measured before,” explains Dr. Dinesh Neupane, the country coordinator for May Measurement Month in Nepal. “When we approach people about being screened, we often hear that they don’t need their blood pressure checked because they feel healthy.” But Dr. Neupane Read More >

Posted on by Bethany HallLeave a commentTags , , , ,

Tracking Lassa Fever Across Three Countries

Tracking Lassa Fever Across Three Countries

  When a Beninese migrant worker fell ill in Nigeria in December 2017, he decided to return to his parents’ home in Togo for care. His condition deteriorated during his trip through Benin. On his trip he stopped at Tandou Health Center in Tchaourou, Benin, was attended to by two healthcare workers, and continued his Read More >

Posted on by By Lesley Chace, MPH CDC FETP Lead - Francophone West AfricaTags , , , , , ,

From Mangoes to Meningitis: A Tale of One Laboratory Scientist in Burkina Faso

Rasmata Ouédraogo-Traoré PhD is the Chief of the Medical Analysis Laboratory of the Charles De Gaulle Pediatric Hospital, which houses the National Reference Laboratory for meningitis in Burkina Faso, and a professor of bacteriology-virology, medical sciences and pharmacy at the University of Ouagadougou. A concerned mother in Burkina Faso says to me, “I think that Read More >

Posted on by Professor Rasmata Ouédraogo-Traoré, PhDTags , , ,

Overcoming Refusals to Polio Vaccination in Uttar Pradesh, India

In 2014, WHO South-East Asia Region (SEAR) became the fourth region, among WHO’s six regions, to be certified as having interrupted all wild polio virus (WPV) circulation. India was the last country to eliminate polio in SEAR, proving that polio could be eradicated in the most challenging settings. Multiple international partners collaborated with Government of Read More >

Posted on by Alford (A.J.) Williams, Public Health Advisor, Global Immunization Division

I have seen Ebola. Now you have a vaccine.

Debut of preventive use of Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) vaccine for health care and frontline workers in Uganda before an outbreak For the first time, an unlicensed Ebola vaccine tested in clinical trials during the West African outbreak was offered to health care workers (HCWs) and other front line workers (FLWs) working in facilities bordering Read More >

Posted on by Rosalind Carter-Epidemiologist, Global Immunization Division

Readying the World for Maternal RSV Vaccine

Updated from the original posting on Vaccines Work on February 18, 2019 By getting vaccinated in pregnancy, mothers can safeguard themselves and their infants in the first few vulnerable months of life against certain diseases. This strategy is a powerful approach for reaching two stages of life often underserved by current immunization programs—pregnancy and early Read More >

Posted on by By Dr. Bruce Innis, Global Head, Respiratory Infections & Maternal Immunization, PATH Center for Vaccine Access and Immunization, and AMI Strategic Leadership and Dr. Sadaf Khan, PATH Senior Program Officer and AMI Maternal & Newborn Health Technical AdvisorTags , , ,

Promoting access to and use of clean and safe water to stop hepatitis E


My name is Dr. Matthew Goers, an Epidemic Intelligence Service (or EIS) officer with CDC’s Division of Global Health Protection. Our division works with other countries and international organizations to respond to international disasters, disease outbreaks, and humanitarian crises. In September of 2017, Namibia began reporting sporadic cases of acute jaundice, abdominal pain, and fatigue. Read More >

Posted on by Dr. Matthew GoersTags , , ,