The Minister of Health, Dr Diane Gashumba and her Congolese counterpart, Pierre Kangudia Mbayi, have agreed to set up a joint roadmap for cross-border activities aimed at combating the Ebola virus disease (EVD) epidemic.
It follows the death of more than 1,600 people Ebola in DR Congo since the outbreak began in August 2018.
The two ministers met Tuesday in Rubavu on the Rwandan side to discuss joint strategies to prevent the spread of Ebola and strengthen cooperation, particularly in the field of public health.
The second-largest Ebola outbreak ever recorded has recently spread to DR Congo’s border city of Goma close to the Rwandan border, prompting rapid response teams to swing into action to prevent further transmission.
According to the WHO, the risk of national Ebola spread is high which why they have been doing intensive preparedness work in Goma so that any new case is identified and responded to immediately.
End last month, a few days after the first case of Ebola was detected in Goma, the WHO called the outbreak a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC), urging the international community to step up its support.
PHEIC is a formal declaration by the UN agency in charge of world health matters of an extraordinary event, which is determined to constitute a public health risk to other states through the international spread of disease.
A communique released shortly after the meeting said they also agreed to establish a cross-border consultation framework, common mechanisms for the prevention and case management of including surveillance, sharing information, vaccination and case management.
Among the prominent resolutions of the meeting was the determination to facilitate smooth movements across the borders, yet taking very strong measures to keep the epidemic at bay.
“It was thus decided to put in place preventive mechanisms to contain the EVD and secure trans-border movements with a view to reducing the risk of spreading the disease,” the communique read.
“This will be done jointly and in consultation with the private sector and civil society so as not to affect cross-border socio-economic exchanges between the two countries.”
After adopting the roadmap, a technical team is being set up for its rapid implementation after its presentation to the World Health Organisation Regional Office on 15 of this month.
Rwanda has embarked on robust community awareness and mobilisation, vaccination of frontline workers, creating EVD treatment centres, and stepping up surveillance.