Gashumba calls for united front to prevent disease outbreak in Africa

Health minister Dr Diane Gashumba. File.

Working together and forming alliances should be the method of choice if disease outbreaks are to be contained before they ravage the continent, the Minister for Health, Dr Diane Gashumba, has said.

Addressing the 7th African Partner Outbreak Response Alliance (APORA) Key Leader Conference, yesterday, Gashumba pointed out an example of West Africa where she said joint efforts among different stakeholders resulted in containing Ebola outbreak in the region a few years back.

“It wouldn’t have been possible without the alliance of many agencies and countries coming together to stop Ebola.

“Today the fight continues, in our neighbouring country DR Congo, Ebola has risen again but due to collective efforts, it has been contained despite the complex environmental and security factors involved,” she said.

She called on the participants, who were drawn from 25 countries to put more efforts in ensuring DR Congo is also declared Ebola-free once again.

“DR Congo was declared Ebola free in the past and from what we have learned the fight is hard but it is not impossible when we come together as one,” she said.

She called on other African countries to join the APORA, adding that it endeavours to rapidly advance all participating countries’ plans, readiness, and capabilities by establishing effective international relationships, and sharing and leveraging best practices.

The Minister for Defence, Major General Albert Murasira, reminded participants that the men and women in uniform take the lead in fighting outbreaks because they consider any public health threat an enemy to the population.

“No population can feel safe if there was a killer disease among them, which is why we take the lead as men and women in uniform to prevent and protect the people from any disease or any outbreak,” he said.

He updated participants about the response to DR Congo outbreak whereby his ministry updated the Ebola preparedness plan with men and women in uniform taking the lead as Rapid Response teams.

“We have made several Ebola simulation exercises and provided extensive training to our personnel. All these prove that we take preparedness seriously and use it as a weapon against any outbreak that may feel confident enough to destabilise our country,” he said.

About APORA

APORA was formed in response to the Ebola outbreak which claimed over 11,000 lives on the continent from 2014 to 2016.

It originally began as a military event but has since opened its attendance to include civilian partner agencies. The alliance also uses the Global Health Agenda to inform and shape their activities.

Preparedness

Late last year, the Ministry of Health and Rwanda Military Hospital held an Ebola simulation exercise (SIMEX) to ensure preparedness in case of any emergency outbreak.

The exercise, dubbed “Kumira Ebola Simulation Exercise” SIMEX, was held at the Rwanda Military Hospital in Kanombe.

The medical simulation exercise tested RDF medical service personnel and other stakeholders on the readiness and general conduct in case of an Ebola outbreak in the country.

editor@newtimesrwanda.com