Ebola is continuing to cause suffering in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where the death toll recently passed 1,500. Neighbouring Uganda is also on high alert for an outbreak of the disease, for which there is still no cure.
But after the 2014 outbreak, things are different this time round, with governments and health workers not only better prepared, but more informed about what Ebola is and how it can be prevented.
We spoke to Dr Shellina Atwine, Compassion International’s Uganda Manager of Program Support, and Dr Yona Kapere, Compassion’s Africa regional health advisor based in Uganda, to find out how communities are coping and the role that churches are playing.
CT: What is the mood like among people in the DRC and now among Ugandans? How has this affected them emotionally and spiritually?
Dr Atwine: In Uganda the announcement of Ebola usually causes a state of high alertness. Ever since the Ebola cases were repatriated to DRC [by the family’s request], there is a bit of calm in Uganda. However, with the ban on public gatherings still on in Kasese the mood is not normal as yet. Emotionally – at first there was anxiety but with the interventions the Ministry of Health put in place, people are less anxious but still vigilant. Spiritually, it is still a prayer point for many Ugandans.
CT: Has Compassion been involved in prevention or helping communities where it has already spread?
Dr Atwine: In accordance with government regulations to suspend public gatherings in the Kasese region, all frontline church partners in Kasese are not meeting. Compassion Uganda and frontline church partner staff members are supporting the government’s efforts for prevention and are making sure families are aware of the disease, how to prevent it and what to do if someone in the family shows symptoms of Ebola. Some churches are broadcasting information on the radio too.
CT: Have churches been able to play a part in the response?
Dr Kapere: The Gospel continues to be preached; however, churches are using every opportunity to educate and raise awareness about Ebola. Churches are also joining together in prayer for the epidemic to come to an end.
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Source: Christian Today