WHO gives Sh50m for war on Marburg virus

MVD is a rare disease with high mortality rate. FILE PHOTO | NMG
MVD is a rare disease with high mortality rate. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

The World Health Organisation has released $500,000 (Sh50 million) from its emergency kitty in efforts to contain the Marburg virus disease-outbreak (MVD) on the Uganda-Kenya border that has killed two people so far.

The fund will cater for medical supplies, guidance on safe and dignified burials among other activities, according to WHO.

Recently, a 50-year-old woman in Kween District of Northeastern Uganda bordering Bungoma County died at a health centre of fever, bleeding, vomiting and diarrhoea with laboratory testing confirming MVD as the cause.

MVD is a rare disease with high mortality rate. It has no specific treatment.

“We are working with health authorities to rapidly implement response measures of the MVD outbreak that has appeared in Northeastern Uganda on the border with Kenya,” said Ibrahima-Soce Fall, WHO Regional Emergency Director for the Africa region.

“Uganda has previously managed Ebola and Marburg outbreaks but international support is urgently required to scale up the response as the overall risk of national and regional spread of this epidemic-prone disease is high.”

WHO revealed that several hundred people may have been exposed to the virus at the health facility where the woman died and during her traditional burial ceremonies in Kween District.

The woman’s brother had also died of similar symptoms three weeks earlier and was buried at a traditional funeral. He worked as a game hunter and lived near a cave inhabited by Rousettus bats, which are natural hosts of the Marburg virus.