Following the confirmation of Swine Influenza (H1N1) cases in the region, health officials in the country have embarked on a review of the National Preparedness Response Plan (NPRP) in an effort to boost response systems to handle probable Swine Flu pandemic.
Speaking during a Pandemic Tabletop Exercise held yesterday, the Director of the Epidemic Infectious Disease Unit in Treatment and Research AIDS Centre (TRAC-plus), Jackson Sebeza said that the review exercise was aimed at addressing possible loopholes in RPRP.
“We want to review our emergency plans in place to combat probable swine flu pandemic, to streamline them in order to ensure we are fully equipped for any outbreak,” said Sebeza.
The two-day exercise has brought together public health experts from the government and other stakeholders to build on existing pandemic plans, and discuss preparedness priorities in an event the deadly disease strikes.
The National Preparedness and Response lNPRP was established in 2006.
Regarding prevailing disease mutation concerns, Sebeza noted that there was no cause for alarm as the diagnostic measures in place are effective and would remain constant.
“There is a risk the virus can mutate, however the diagnosis is still constant, we have trained medical experts who are prepared to collect samples of suspected cases and forward them for testing at the National Reference Laboratory,” Sebeza said.
The director of Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Pratima Raghunathan also stressed that the need to test plans in place as health officials brace themselves for any occurrence of the disease in the country.
“This is an opportune moment to test our measures so as to build knowledge base on possible gaps within the system we have in place and to reinforce collaboration amongst all bodies working on the emergency plan,” Raghunathan said.
Swine Flu mitigation efforts have benefited from added vigilance with disease surveillance sites being put across in all districts and at major entry points into the country.
In addition Rapid Response Teams have been trained in hospitals countrywide which have also been stocked with Tamiflu.
Meanwhile, Dr Theogene Rutagwenda, the Director of Rwanda Animal Resources Development Authority (RARDA), commended the measures in place to alleviate the disease.
“All the measures we have places Rwanda on top regionally in terms of disease emergency preparedness. Therefore there is no cause for alarm because the situation is under control,” Rutagwenda said.
Although the World Health Organisation has raised the level of the disease alert from phase 5 to Phase 6, Rutandegwa maintained that there is no cause of alarm or panic.