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Community Health Workers enlisted to fight Covid-19

Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General, World Health Organisation, poses with a group of community health workers at Mayange Health Centre in Bugesera in 2018. A top official involved with the fight against Covid-19 in the country has said the Government will soon turn to the more than 60,000 community health workers to help contain the pandemic. / File

Community Health Workers (CHWs) will soon be engaged in the Coronavirus treatment process, The New Times has learnt.

The development was announced by the Director General of Rwanda Biomedical Centre (RBC) Dr Sabin Nsanzimana, during the handover of Covid-19 medical supplies to Rwandan healthcare workers by UNFPA, a UN agency.


According to Nsanzimana, the involvement of CHWs in this fight will significantly bolster the fight against the virus in communities, largely due to the decentralized nature of their reach.


He said this is also key as the number of patients continues to increase in the country and as the ministry continues to expand its testing capabilities.


“We are now going to decentralize some of the coronavirus treatment services and they will be carried out by community health workers,” highlighted Dr Sabin Nsanzimana, the Director General of RBC.

A volunteer helps commuters wash their hands at Kigali downtown taxi park in May.At least 60,000 volunteers have been enlisted to help fight against Covid-19. Photo: Craish Bahizi.

This development, he says, was adopted due to the significant role played by the community health workers in reducing Malaria deaths in the country.

According to information from the ministry, since the outbreak of the virus, only ten out of the 1700 patients were reported as severe cases, of which four required medical ventilators.

Nsanzimana told The New Times earlier this week that no patient is in critical condition.

These Community Health Workers have reduced malaria deaths by 60%, according to the statistics issued by RBC.

The number of recorded malaria cases reduced from 4.6 million in 2016 to 3.5 million in 2019 countrywide while those who contracted severe malaria reduced from 18000 in 2015/2016 to 7000 in 2018/2019.

The number of deaths reduced from 660 in 2015/2016 to 264 in 2018/2019.

Nsanzimana went on explaining, “Only between 30 to 34% of malaria patients reported to the hospital, the rest were treated by community health workers. This gives us hope that these heroes can contribute a lot towards fighting this Coronavirus pandemic”, he added.

Among the roles that will be assigned to CHWs include educating citizens on preventive measures, distribution of protective equipment and following up on recovering patients after they are discharged from treatment centres.

Today, Rwanda has more than 60,000 community health workers nationwide and are decentralized at the village level.

So far, Rwanda has conducted over 231,186 Covid-19 sample tests and 1,710 of them have tested positive, 889 have recovered and 5 have died.

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