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12 June 2019 - News

First child dies of Ebola in new outbreak in Uganda

Ebola screening centre on the DRC-Uganda border. Alun McDonald / Save the Children

Save the Children is distressed to learn the five-year-old boy diagnosed with Ebola in Uganda on Tuesday has died from the illness. The child was isolated and admitted for treatment, but medics were unable to save him. Another two cases have now been confirmed, bringing the total number of cases in Uganda in the past 24 hours to three. 

The child’s death highlights the vulnerability of children to Ebola, and Save the Children is warning that governments, donors and agencies must act immediately to prevent further deaths.

Brechtje van Lith, Save the Children’s Country Director in Uganda, said:

“Ebola is a horrific illness that ravages the human body. We’ve been told this young boy was diagnosed after showing severe symptoms of Ebola, including vomiting blood. This first death, of a child, is a sickening reminder of the dangers of this disease.

“We are particularly concerned about the remaining stigma in some communities around Ebola, which can hinder the efforts of health teams and cause the disease to spread faster. The spread of misinformation and community mistrust about Ebola is a major factor in its spread in DRC, and we are urging donors and governments to invest more in community-level prevention activities in Uganda.”

In response to these first cases of Ebola to hit Uganda, Save the Children is scaling up its existing prevention activities, including community awareness and mobilisation sessions and training village health teams.

For the past year, Save the Children has been working with local communities and district authorities in western Uganda to help mitigate the spread of the outbreak. The agency has trained more than 1,000 Ugandan health workers, volunteers, teachers, village health teams and laboratory staff on key steps to prevent and respond to cases; provided key Infection Prevention Control materials at health facilities and points of entry; and installed handwashing facilities in rural communities to reduce the risk. If the disease spreads further in Uganda Save the Children is also ready to ensure critical child protection and psychosocial services for children and families affected by Ebola.