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Mass Gathering Event-based Surveillance in Bunyangabu District, Uganda

AFENET Corps of Disease Detective (ACoDD) teams in Uganda, conducted mass gathering event-based surveillance in Bunyangabu District, Uganda. This was during the 2019 International Women’s Day celebrations held 8 March 2019 in Bunyangabu District at Rwimi Primary School. According to the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) risk assessment conducted by the Ministry of Health (MoH) and its technical partners, Bunyangabu District is one of the 5 districts in Uganda at the highest risk of spread of the ongoing EVD outbreak in the DRC. 

As a result of the social and cultural interactions, mass gatherings can facilitate spread of many of epidemic prone diseases. The Uganda Ministry of Health, through the Emergency Operations Centres, requested AFENET to support mass gathering surveillance during the National Women’s Day celebration in Bunyangabu District. Consequently, a team of four Epidemiologists from the Ministry of Health and AFENET travelled to the district to conduct the activity. The team conducted: Screening of all participants, provided basic infection prevention and control practices and trained volunteers to conduct screening as well at various points of entry at at Rwimi Primary School in Bunyangabu District. AFENET team included: Dr. Issa Makumbi, EOC, Dr. Ben Masiira, AFENET, Dr Bernard Lubwama, ESD and Denis Okethwangu, ACoDD

Due to the close proximity to the DRC, and the high rate of cross-border movements, coupled with the porosity of these borders, the risk of transmission remains high. As of 5 March 2019, a cumulative total of 897 EVD cases have been recorded, of which 832 were confirmed, 65 probable cases and 563 deaths (Case Fatality Rate = 58%) in Mabalako Health Zone, North Kivu Province in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Consequently, more cases have been identified in Ituri, a province that borders Uganda to the West(1). There have been no confirmed cases of EVD in Uganda to date.

Since the declaration of the EVD outbreak in DRC, the country has been implementing several activities to prevent the spread of EVD from hotspots in DRC into Uganda. These activities include, but are not limited to trainings and mentorships on surveillance, contact tracing, infection prevention and control, risk communication, screening at points of entry, enhanced community and health facility surveillance and provision of supplies.