U.S. Ambassador Visits Rwenzori Region: Inaugurates Zoonotic Safety Lab, Strengthening Health Security | November 5, 2021 | PR 15/2021

Kampala, November 5, 2021 – U.S. Ambassador to Uganda, Natalie E. Brown, today completed a four-day working visit to the Rwenzori region to monitor and assess the impact of U.S. assistance programs designed to promote global health security, strengthen Ugandan health systems, improve health outcomes for the Ugandan people, encourage civic engagement, and strengthen Uganda’s human capital.  She also met with local alumni of the Young African Leadership Initiative (YALI) and other U.S.-sponsored exchange programs. 

During a November 2 visit to the Uganda – DRC border crossing in Mpondwe, Ambassador Brown observed how U.S. support for training on health-related screening of travelers, provision of PPE, and Infection Prevention and Control is helping to keep populations on both sides of the border healthy and prevent disease spread. 

On November 3, Ambassador Brown, together with Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities Minister Tom Butime, inaugurated a state-of-the-art, $6.3 million dollar laboratory at Mweya, Queen Elizabeth National Park. This Bio-Safety Level 2 (BSL-2) Laboratory, funded by the United States through the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) with oversight from U.S. Africa Command, gives the Uganda Wildlife Authority the capability to detect, surveil, and report emerging and re-emerging animal diseases caused by pathogens of concern, in accordance with World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines to limit zoonotic outbreaks.  During the inauguration, Ambassador Brown noted that “Our partnership is not only making Uganda a safer country, but is also increasing regional, continental, and global standards in disease detection, diagnostics, and surveillance.” 

In Fort Portal, Ambassador Brown visited the Regional Referral Hospital, which houses the Fort Portal Regional Emergency Operations Center (EOC).  With support from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the EOC has developed coordination mechanisms for preparedness and response to infectious diseases, including COVID-19, in conjunction with its local partner, Baylor-Uganda.  Ambassador Brown also heard first-hand how U.S. support has helped communities prevent, detect, and treat HIV and improve maternal, newborn, and child health in the Rwenzori region.  The U.S.-funded 2012-2017 Saving Mothers Giving Life project, for example, continues to demonstrate improved maternal and neonatal outcomes, supporting the hospital’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, which admits about 130 premature and sick newborns monthly and provides regional neonatal care training for health workers. “NGOs and CSOs like Baylor-Uganda are critical to the success of U.S. investments in Uganda,” Ambassador Brown said.  “I am pleased to see how our collaboration with civil society is improving health care delivery, resource management, and infectious disease response and, most importantly, helping local residents lead healthy, productive lives.”   

Also in Fort Portal, Ambassador Brown met with Mayor Asaba Edison Ruyonga and his leadership team on their goals for the city, as well as with community representatives where she learned about how the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) is helping citizens collaborate to more effectively engage their government representatives and bring about positive change by finding local solutions to issues affecting their community.  

For additional information, please contact: 

Dorothy Nanyonga, Information Assistant    
U.S. Mission Uganda;
Tel: +256-414-250-314 x6104;
Email: KampalaPress@state.gov