Gov’t ups swine flu combat

Two more sentinel sites to be set up The Ministry of Health is bracing itself up for any likely event that the highly contagious respiratory disease, H1N1 strikes.

Two more sentinel sites to be set up

The Ministry of Health is bracing itself up for any likely event that the highly contagious respiratory disease, H1N1 strikes. The Acting Director of Epidemic Infectious Disease Unit in Trac plus, Dr. Jackson Sebeza, revealed that training of rapid response teams in district hospitals will soon start.

“According to our programme, the training is set to begin with the hospitals of Kanombe, King Faisal, Muhima, Kibagabaga and the Kigali University Hospital (CHUK) thereafter it will roll out in the other district hospitals in the country.”

He added that those being trained are trainers who are to pass on the acquired knowledge to others and these include doctors, laboratory technicians, surveillance officers and nurses.

Rwanda’s sentinel surveillance system - a monitoring or reporting method for Avian Influenza is established in four hospitals across the country, however, Sebeza said that efforts are underway to set up two more sites so that all provinces are covered.

“We are increasing the sentinel surveillance sites from four to six. In addition to the two in Kigali, one in Eastern Province and the other in the Western Province, two sites are being set up in Musanze and Huye districts,” he added.

33 countries have officially reported 6497 cases of influenza A (H1N1) infection.

Mexico has reported 2446 laboratory confirmed human cases of infection, including 60 deaths.

The United States has reported 3352 laboratory confirmed human cases, including three deaths.

Canada has reported 389 laboratory confirmed human cases, including one death. Costa Rica has reported eight laboratory confirmed human cases, including one death.

The following countries have reported laboratory confirmed cases with no deaths - Argentina (1), Australia (1), Austria (1), Brazil (8), China (4), Colombia (7), Cuba (1), Denmark (1), El Salvador (4), Finland (2), France (14), Germany (12), Guatemala (3), Ireland (1), Israel (7), Italy (9), Japan (4),
Netherlands (3), New Zealand (7), Norway (2), Panama (29), Poland (1), Portugal (1), Republic of Korea (3), Spain (100), Sweden (2), Switzerland (1), Thailand (2), and the United Kingdom (71).

The public is also advised to wash hands thoroughly with soap and water on a regular basis. Symptoms include vomiting and sneezing among others.

The Africa Regional Office of the World Health Organization (AFRO) has launched a programme to combat the potential spread to Africa of the swine influenza A/H1N1 which, had been officially reported in nine countries.  No cases of swine influenza A/H1N1 have been reported in Africa.

“We have established a crisis management team at the Regional Office in Brazzaville to monitor the situation and to respond if necessary to any swine flu outbreaks.  We are also working with countries to bolster their disease surveillance systems and to strengthen their contingency and epidemic preparedness and response plans,” WHO Regional Director for Africa, Dr Luis Sambo, said.

He added that Regional Office was also undertaking a strategic pre-positioning of stockpiles of Tamiflu and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) throughout the Region as well as mapping laboratory and human resources capability at country and regional levels to enable WHO  to support Member States to respond rapidly to any  suspected outbreaks.

Individuals are advised to wash hands thoroughly with soap and water on a regular basis and should seek medical attention if they develop any symptoms of influenza-like illness.

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