How technology has boosted Rwanda’s response to Covid-19

A robot dubbed ‘Urumuri’ was deployed to Kigali International Airport to perform mass screenings. Photo: Sam Ngendahimana

Three months after the Covid-19 outbreak was announced in China, Rwanda reported her first case of the pandemic.

Nearly seven months later, the country has now confirmed a total of 4,836 Covid-19 cases of whom 3,125 have recovered.

 

Rwanda’s Covid-19 death toll stands at 29 people so far.

 

On many occasions, the country was hailed for her early response to the pandemic, which is why amidst travel restrictions imposed by many countries, travelers from Rwanda continue to face lesser impediments.

 

According to frontline workers, technology played a big role in ensuring that Rwanda prevents the quick spread of the pandemic.

“We were paper-less from the very beginning and all the needed Covid-19 data were captured on very detailed dashboards (displayed on big screens) and were updated on a daily basis by a single click,” Dr Menelas Nkeshimana, a member of Rwanda’s Joint Taskforce for Covid-19 (JTFC) told The New Times.

He went on to explain: “Apart from data management and contact tracing, technology did take us through complex mathematical modeling equations to inform us on how many cases we were to get, based on the rate at which we were registering new cases day by day.”

That, he said, has been very helpful for the planning purpose, to ensure that “as we moved forward we had all the human resources and materials needed to match well with the pace at which we were getting hit.”

Deployment of robots

In May, Rwanda deployed five high-tech robots to help in the fight against Covid-19 by reducing contact between medics and patients.

According to Dr Vincent Mutabazi who is also a member of JTFC, the move was beneficial.

He said: “Robots have been used in Covid-19 treatment centers to help in the distribution of drugs, food, disinfection of patient stations, and assessment of vital signs in patients among others, all of which speeded up work and prevented health workers from contracting the pandemic among other benefits.”

Other tech-based solutions initiated to fight the pandemic in Rwanda include the deployment of drones to create awareness among citizens as far as Covid-19 precautionary measures are concerned.

Smartphones are also currently being used to follow-up on Covid-19 patients undergoing home-based care and identifying contacts of Covid-19 confirmed cases.

Tech-solutions to remain relevant

According to Nkeshimana, technological skills and experiences acquired during the Covid-19 pandemic will be used to combat other epidemics.

“This Covid-19 was a tragic event but also an opportunity to learn a lot of things, in case of future health threats of this magnitude, we are equipped with more skills and knowledge to face them fearlessly,” he said.

The introduction of tech-solutions wouldn’t have been possible without efforts from the private sector.

Speaking to The New Times, Daphine Mutoni, Managing Director of DIT (Driving Innovation and Technology) that introduced Ikaze App also said that some of these tech solutions will remain relevant post-Covid-19.

Ikaze App is an application used to record visitors and employees entering given premises, instead of using pen and paper method, so as to help in the process of contact tracing among other benefits.

“We introduced this Application to play our role in the fight against Covid-19, but Ikaze App is still relevant even post Covid-19 due to the fact that pen and paper registration is time-consuming and sometimes inaccurate in case one provide false registration details,” she said.

editor@newtimesrwanda.com

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