Uganda presents several unique and promising opportunities for surveillance of zoonoses in wildlife with pandemic potential: the country has a long-standing and well-established network of national parks, all of which provide protection for several primate species, and all of which are surrounded by intensive animal agriculture and dense human communities, resulting in significant wildlife/livestock/human interactions and conflict. Uganda is home to half the world’s population of mountain gorillas, for which there is a thriving ecotourism industry that brings people (local and foreign) into daily contact with gorillas. Mountain gorillas also leave protected areas to forage in cultivated fields at park margins, thereby coming into direct and indirect contact with people and domestic animals. Additionally, there is a burgeoning cave tourism industry developing in Uganda, which brings people (both Ugandans and tourists) into close contact with bat species. These factors, coupled with the significant infrastructure in place for monitoring and surveillance and the close working ties that already exist between the UC Davis implementing partner, the Mountain Gorilla Veterinary Project (MGVP) and these entities, facilitate a comprehensive wildlife zoonoses surveillance program in Uganda.
Uganda Country Coordinator: Dr. Benard Jasper Ssebide
Dr. Ssebide received his Veterinary Degree and Masters of Science in Wildlife Health and Management from Makerere University in Uganda. For six years, he worked for the Uganda Wildlife Authority as a Veterinarian and National Park Warden, based in Bwindi / Mgahinga Conservation Area. During that time, he became a collaborator and friend of the Mountain Gorilla Veterinary Project. He joined the project early in 2007 to concentrate on field veterinary work rather than protected area administration and served as MGVP Uganda Field Veterinarian. Benard has a keen interest in wildlife disease surveillance and recently transferred to coordinate the PREDICT program for Uganda.