Rtd Col. John Jodan, Chief Disaster Management Planner at the US Centre for Disaster and Humanitarian Assistance Medicine (CDHAM) made the warning this week during a five-day workshop at which officials from CDHAM and the US military base for Africa – Africom – engaged Ugandans officials in reviewing the recently developed Uganda Strategy for Disaster Preparedness.
Jodan said: “Ëxperts believe that it is not a matter of if but when a pandemic influenza outbreak will happen. The outbreak is expected to be as severe as the one that broke out in 1918 and killed several millions of people. Imagine how many people it would kill now with the travel and high level of urbanisation today, if everybody is not prepared?”
According to Wikipedia, The 1918 flu pandemic (January 1918 – December 1920) was an unusually deadly influenza pandemic, the first of the two pandemics involving H1N1 influenza virus (the second being the 2009 flu pandemic). It infected 500 million people across the world, including remote Pacific islands and the Arctic, and killed 50 to 100 million of them—3 to 5 percent of the world’s population at the time—making it one of the deadliest natural disasters in human history
Jordan said the workshop, attended by officials from the UPDF officers, department of disaster preparedness, meteorology, health was meant to review the strategy initiated by the US agencies but fully developed by Ugandans over the last few months.
However despite the importance of the subject considering reports that Uganda is highly susceptible to dangerous disease outbreaks as seen in recent years with Ebola and Murburg, several officials did who were expected at the meeting, did not turn up on time.
This sent concerns among organisers about the seriousness and commitment of Ugandan officials to implement the plan.
The workshop also comes amid reports that Uganda has been attacked by dangerous flu from India .
However, the Ministry of Health has reassured Ugandans that the new flu is like other common flus and that it is not a killer type as the media has claimed.