The outbreak of Ebola haemorrhagic fever in Kasese is a matter of great concern to everyone. It’s encouraging to see that the boss of the World Health Organisation Dr. Tedros Adhanom embarked on an emergency trip to Uganda to lend his organisation’s support in containing the disease, just a few days after the government confirmed the outbreak.
Dr. Tedros’s visit follows a donation of vehicles and motorcycles by the WHO to help Uganda counter the challenge of Ebola. Similar emergency assistance has been provided by the government of the Republic of Ireland to the ministry hours after Minister Ruth Aceng confirmed the Ebola outbreak.
These emergency responses not only signify the importance with which countries attach to an outbreak of a disease like Ebola.
It is however unfortunate to note that Uganda’s neighbours and members of the East African community have not demonstrated corresponding solidarity by joining efforts to try to contain and control the outbreak before it reaches them.
It is all well when the governments of Kenya, Rwanda and Tanzania send alerts to its people to beware of possible danger coming from Uganda and may be other countries. But providing assistance, and expressing solidarity, in whichever form, can bring about huge benefits in strengthening the bond and sense of unity between the people of East Africa.
The show of solidarity should not stop at the level of government, it should be seen to come from other institutions like regional bodies like the East African Community secretariat, Regional Medical and Scientific Associations, Red Cross Societies from neighbouring countries and more.
The point we are making is that the Ebola outbreak can be used as an pportunity to show unity of purpose. By uniting to solve a common problem that knows no borders, the people of East Africa would find a reason to associate with the regional body, unlike in the current situation where many people find it hard to understand the benefits of coming together.