NEW VISION, Kampala, Uganda, Tuesday, 18 December 2007.

Uganda: Kasese, Bundibugyo Asked to Suspend Circumcision

Anne Mugisa

THE Ministry of Health has asked the people of Bundibugyo and Kasese to suspend their circumcision ceremonies due this festive season until the Ebola epidemic is contained.

The commissioner for health services, Dr. Sam Okware, told journalists yesterday that the ministry is holding discussions with the communities to suspend the practice, adding that the district authorities should make by-laws to suspend circumcision.

Circumcision among the Bamba and Bakonjo was in the past conducted every five years but recently, the practice has been taking place between the end and the beginning of the year.

The health state minister, Dr. Emmanuel Otaala, said another suspected case of Ebola had been reported in Congo on the Bundibugyo border.

The patient had clinical signs of Ebola and the ministry had asked its personnel to cooperate and treat the case, he said.

"Since this case is at the border with us, it is a threat to us and, therefore, needs to be handled." Otaala said Uganda is part of a Great Lakes initiative, where districts on the borders cooperate to deal with an emergency.

In Bundibugyo, the minister said, health workers had managed to break the transmission chain of Ebola through surveillance and tracing over 400 contacts of victims.

The cases are all in Bundibugyo in the sub-counties of Kasitu, Bubukwanga, Busaru, Bundibugyo trading centre and Harugale, he said, adding that the disease is "on a downward trend."

Otaala said the cumulative number of cases had risen to 127 but the death toll remained at 35.

He added that 39 patients, including six health workers, had recovered and were discharged. The remaining patients, he said, are expected to be discharged in a few weeks.

Those discharged were given a package, which included a mattress, pair of bed-sheets, a blanket, three sets of clothing, a mosquito net, a pair of shoes, sandals, two plastic jerrycans, two plastic basins, three boxes of condoms, 10 bars of soap, food rations for five people for three months, a bottle of Jik disinfectant and 10 packs of sanitary towels.

(File created 19 December 2007)