Monday, July 30, 2012

Uganda's Yoweri Museveni warns of Ebola threat as deaths are reported in the capital Kampala

Uganda's President Yoweri Museveni has called on people to avoid physical contact, after the deadly Ebola virus spread to the capital, Kampala.
Fourteen people have died, including one in Kampala, since the outbreak began in western Uganda three weeks ago, he said in a special broadcast.
Ebola is one of the most virulent diseases in the world. It is spread by close personal contact and kills up to 90% of those who become infected.

Mr Museveni said health officials were trying to trace everyone who had had contact with victims so that they could be quarantined.  People should avoid shaking hands, kissing or having sex to prevent the disease from spreading, he added.
Mr Museveni said relatives and friends should not bury anyone who is suspected to have died of Ebola.
"Instead call health workers because they know how to do it," he said.
Mr Museveni said seven doctors and 13 health workers at Mulago hospital - the main referral hospital in Kampala - are in quarantine after "at least one or two cases" were taken there. One victim later died. 

"I wish you good luck, and may God rest the souls of those who died in eternal peace," Mr Museveni said as he ended his address to the nation.
The first victim of the latest outbreak was a pregnant woman.
Uganda has seen three major outbreaks over the past 12 years. The deadliest was in 2000 when 425 people were infected. More than half of them died.
There is no vaccine for the virus. Symptoms include sudden onset of fever, weakness, headache, vomiting and kidneys problems.

Ebola’s hits Kibaale District 

Government has dispatched a team of doctors to hunt down and isolate people suspected of having come into contact with patients infected with the deadly Ebola virus in Kibaale district.
Some 20 people been infected by the virus by Saturday night, according to the district health officer Dr Dan Kyamanywa, of whom 14 have died.
Although no new infections had been reported by press time yesterday the race was on to isolate people who came into contact with those affected, in order to stop the highly infectious virus from spreading.
A team of physicians from the Health ministry, the US Centre for Disease Control and the World Health Organisation are in the district to assist local officials manage the outbreak.
Dr Kyamanywa said two patients admitted to an isolation ward at Kagadi Hospital are showing signs of recovery. “They were admitted with severe fever, abdominal pain and diarrhoea but they are in a fairly good condition,” he said.
The disease was first reported about two weeks ago in Nyanswiga Village, Nyamarunda Sub-county, after it killed 13 family members. Ms Claire Muhumuza, a clinical officer at Kagadi Hospital who was attending to the patients, also passed on last week.
Dr Kyamanywa said three patients have recovered and are under surveillance. District leaders joined medical officials in briefing the public about the disease in a two-hour talk show that was aired at Kagadi-Kibaale community radio on Saturday.
Dr Kyamanywa said a public awareness and sensitisation campaign has been rolled out to give measures of prevention from contracting the disease.


Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Family Planning Saves Lives, But Millions Can’t Access It

By Carolyn Miles

Around the world, an estimated 222 million women who don’t want to get pregnant cannot access contraception. I was surpised to learn Namutebi was one of them.

On the way to the Ugandan hospital where I met Namutebi, I saw several clinics advertising family planning services. The services were free and there for the asking.  But despite her deep desire to control her family size, Namutebi told me she didn’t go to the clinics.  Her husband didn’t want her to use contraceptives, she said.  It just wasn’t a decision she could make.

Namutebi was in her early 20s, but she had just given birth to her fifth child.  She was lucky, really, because she escaped serious complications for her baby or herself—even though she was unable to plan and space her pregnancies at least two years apart as medically recommended. In fact, empowering women to delay conception for three years after giving birth could save up to 1.8 million children’s lives each year, as explained in Save the Children’s new report, Every Woman’s Right: How family planning saves children’s lives.

But Namutebi hardly felt like celebrating.  She told me she felt worried.  How would she and her husband provide for their growing family?  Would there be enough money for food?  For school fees?  And what if she kept having babies?  She probably would, she knew.  The average Ugandan woman has seven children, a figure that has barely budged for several decades.

In Namutebi’s community and others around the world, large family size is equated with status and even a perception of wealth.  In some Ugandan tribes, for example, a man may receive cows for every daughter he marries off.   He’ll need these when it comes time for his sons to marry.  The whole thing can end in a wash, but the pressures remain.  Women like Namutebi and their children often pay the price, sometimes with their lives.

In many places where men have the upper hand, husbands may insist their wives keep having children and become angry or even abusive if women choose to use contraception. It makes sense, then, that when we talk about making family planning more accessible for women, we include men in the conversation. The Ugandan government has started to do that now with a campaign aimed at engaging men around the benefits of having smaller families.

Save the Children also includes men in our global efforts by helping train male “motivators” to talk to their peers with messages on the importance of healthy timing and spacing of births.  At the same time, we must ensure that women themselves can access family planning methods that are acceptable to them.  That’s one of the many reasons Save the Children puts great emphasis on training frontline health workers to reach out directly to mothers in their own communities.  These health workers are a critical link to lifesaving maternal, newborn and child health services—including family planning—for women who cannot access hospitals or sometimes even a clinic.

This week, world leaders congregated in London for a family planning summit hosted by the British government and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.  The summit addressed the barriers to improved access and use of contraception, and prompted government pledges to for family planning—which we hope will boost supplies, improve delivery and focus on the critical role of frontline health workers.   This comes on the heels of a global “Child Survival Call to Action” hosted by the U.S., Indian and Ethiopian governments in Washington last month. Save the Children is calling on policymakers to endorse that forum’s goal of ending preventable child deaths within a generation.

The United States has helped lead the way to cutting child deaths by nearly half in the last 20 years.  We need to keep investing in girls’ education and health and nutrition programs that we know save children’s lives. Family planning is a key part of the solution.

Source: Logging Miles
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