KIGALI - The Ministry of Health has established sentinel surveillance systems for Avian Influenza in national referral laboratories through out the country, in an effort to fight the deadly Swine Flu that has hit different parts of the world.
Four of the hospitals involved are Kibungo hospital, Kibagabaga, and Kigali University Hospital (CHU/K) with two more in Butare and Ruhengeri in Musanze district underway.
Speaking to the press yesterday, Health Minister Dr. Richard Sezibera, confirmed that the flu was indeed imminent and the time to finalise the organisation, communication and implementation of mitigation measures was short.
He said that Rwanda was acting under a directive from the World Health Organisation (WHO) requesting all countries to implement heightened surveillance, early detection and treatment of cases and infection control in all health facilities.
“WHO advises no restrictions of regular travels or closure of borders. People who are ill should consider delaying international travels and persons developing influenza-like illnesses should seek immediate medical attention,” said Sezibera, who was flanked by Information Minister Louise Mushikiwabo.
Instructions and guidelines for the hospitals, sentinel sites and various entry points like Kanombe International Airport have been provided in addition to introducing hotline telephone numbers (3334 or 3335) where to report any cases.
Through The Centre for Infectious Disease Control (TRAC plus), rapid response teams composed of medical doctors, nurses and laboratory technicians have also been activated at these sites following the outbreak of the pandemic.
He added that by equipping the treatment centres with all the necessary facilities to undertake the surveillance of highly infectious viral diseases – including swine flu – would be a sure way of combating the scourge.
Sezibera pointed out that protective and transport equipment are available at all sites while other required supplies would be dispatched through the Rwanda Drug Consumables and Equipments Procurement Agency (CAMERWA).
An emergency team headed Prof Michael Kramer, the Director General of TRAC plus meets once or twice a day as a way of strengthening the efforts, the minister revealed.
Originally from USA and Mexico, Swine Flu has quickly spread to Canada, New Zealand, Australia, UK, Israel, Spain and Germany.
According to the new International Health Regulations (IHR), the situation has been declared a public health emergency and raised its pandemic alert from 4 to 5 (human-to-human spread of a new influenza virus). The highest alert level is 6.