A 37-year-old Tanzanian doctor who has been pursuing a Master of Medicine in Surgery course at Kampala International University has succumbed to Ebola, the Association of Surgeons of Uganda has announced.
“Dr [Mohammed] Ali lost the battle to the Ebola Virus Disease,” Association of Surgeons of Uganda tweeted on Saturday.
It’s not clear how he got infected but his death comes hours after the Ministry of Health on Friday announced that the death toll from the Ebola outbreak in the country had risen to seven.
Health Minister Jane Ruth Aceng said Dr Ali tested positive for Ebola on September 26, 2022 and died at 3am on Saturday while receiving treatment at Fort Portal Regional Referral Hospital isolation facility.
“Dr Ali is the first doctor and second health worker to have succumbed to Ebola. The first was a midwife from St Florence Clinic, a probable case, because she died before testing,” Dr Aceng tweeted on Saturday.
So far, at least eight health workers have tested positive for EHVF, including intern doctors and senior house officer (all trainees) who were stationed at the centre of the outbreak at Mubende Regional Referral Hospital, according to Uganda Medical Association (UMA).
In a September 29 letter to the Ministry of Health Permanent Secretary Diana Atwine, association president Dr Samuel Oledo and secretary-general Dr Herbert Luswata said more needs to be done to manage the epidemic and the safety of health workers.
“The UMA NEC held a meeting on September 28, 2022 and resolved to request the Ministry of Health that the infected and hospitalised doctors and health workers at Mubende and other facilities be provided medically appropriate feeding and supportive care at all times. The government and Ministry of Health need to provide: the appropriate medical care, nursing care, nutritious foods, and other fluids that are appropriate in the management of the Ebola infected patients in care, according to the stage of illness and need.
“Persons who are experiencing emesis and diarrhoea cannot feed on solids and are sometimes even too weak to do so and need to be supported. Health workers working in the Ebola Treatment Units (ETU) should sign for and receive the risk allowances,” reads part of the letter.
This follows information that one of the six health workers who have Ebola and were on Wednesday evacuated from Mubende hospital to Fort Portal Regional Referral Hospital, is still fighting for their life on oxygen.
The hospital director, Dr Alex Adaku, confirmed that five of the health workers “are much more stable … while another is still on oxygen.”
Since the initial Ebola outbreak was discovered in Mubende, infections have been found in three other districts -- Kassanda, Kyegegwa and Kagadi -- but Museveni vowed not to cordon off the affected regions.
Ebola is an often fatal viral haemorrhagic fever named after a river in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) where it was discovered in 1976.
Human transmission is through body fluids, with the main symptoms being fever, vomiting, bleeding and diarrhoea.
People who are infected do not become contagious until symptoms appear, which is after an incubation period of between two and 21 days.
At present there is no licensed medication to prevent or treat Ebola, although a range of experimental drugs are in development.
Uganda, which shares a porous border with the DRC, has experienced several Ebola outbreaks, most recently in 2019 when at least five people died.