Rwanda earmarks Rwf11bn for Ebola preparedness

A health worker uses a thermometer to test temperature checking for signs of Ebola virus at Gatuna Border between Rwanda and Uganda last month. / Emmanuel Kwizera

The government has set aside Rwf11.5 billion as it steps up efforts to protect the country against Ebola.

Following Ebola outbreak in eastern DR Congo last year and then in Kasese District, Western Uganda, earlier this month, the World Health Organization (WHO) says Rwanda is at high risk.

Dr Jose Nyamusore, Epidemic Surveillance and Response Division Manager at Rwanda Biomedical Centre, said that due to cross-border movement, Rwanda is considered to be at high risk for Ebola.

He said, this prompted the Ministry of Health to come up with the Ebola virus disease preparedness and response plan phase three, which will be implemented from July 1 through December this year.

This comes after the implementation phase one and two of the similar programme since August 2018.

“Some of the key achievements of phase one and two included; establishments of a technical committee with six sub-groups, the establishment of Public Health Operation Centre, development of technical documents, capacity building, availability of awareness messages, airing awareness messages through various communication channels, development and approval of the protocol of immunisation and vaccination of about 80 per cent of frontlines, establishment of temporary Ebola treatment centres, among others,” Nyamusore stated.

According to the State Minister for Public and Primary Healthcare, Dr Patrick Ndimubanzi, phase three money is to be spent in the next five months to facilitate access to vaccines, infection prevention control, bringing on board expertise, training different doctors about Ebola, among others.

He also noted that it was the last phase and it is a long-term plan.

Dr Kasonde Mwinga, the WHO representative to Rwanda, said they help to coordinate partners responding to different aspects of Ebola preparedness and response.

In case of an outbreak, the organization stirs up an incident management system that comes in to play different pillars for response in different areas.

“WHO has deployed people to help countries, Rwanda inclusive, to build capacity at the national and district levels, leadership and coordination We are represented in various technical groups in Rwanda that are working at the operation level, and we have regional responses,” she noted.

Nyamusore explained that the goal of phase three was to improve the capacity of Rwanda to prevent, timely detect and effectively respond and contain any confirmed case of Ebola.

Mwinga further said that the most important thing at the moment is to first fight the Ebola epidemic in the neighbouring countries because that is how Rwanda can be free from the virus.

Opie Heather, the deputy head of Department for International Development-DFID Rwanda, said: “The most important thing is that Rwanda is in position to respond effectively to anybody who could be having symptoms of Ebola in order to protect the rest of the population”.

She added that, at the border, people travelling are checked for Ebola and there is a lot of work in community sensitisation on what to do if they suspect they have Ebola.

editor@newtimesrwanda.com

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