We first heard of the Ebola hemorrhagic fever when it was reported in Kasai, DR Congo. The ministry of Health alerted the population and put in place preventive measures to stop the disease from spreading to Rwanda.
But as we were celebrating that the Kasai outbreak died down without our getting affected in any way, the news of yet another outbreak in Uganda hit us like a thunderbolt. Not only is the outbreak worryingly close this time around, it is also on the rampage. Bundibugyo, where the first cases were reported, is only 300 kilometres away from Rwanda’s Northern border where there are lots of cross-border activities.
But what’s even more worrying is the fact that there were some cases that were reported in Mbarara and Kampala, which are areas we have so much in common. Everyday people travel from these places to Rwanda for different reasons, and back again.
As per yesterday, reports coming from Uganda indicated that Ebola cases had shot up to 91, with a death toll of 24, including medical personnel. The fact that the cases continue to rise should be worrying for us in Rwanda, so we need to maintain a high alert. If the virus spreads to Rwanda, the damage will be extensive, owing to the fact that this is a nation with a high population density. Moreover, this would be the first time that such an elusive epidemic breaks out in Rwanda.
While we know that the government and in particular the ministry of Health is ceaselessly trying to ensure that the disease does not spill over to our side, everyone of us, not just the government and medical experts, should be on the lookout and heed instructions given by the ministry of Health and local authorities concerning proper conduct in the face of suspicious health cases, and provide information to health workers.
Let us not downplay the threat of Ebola simply because it’s not in our front yard yet; we should rather remember that it is already in our backyard!