Rwanda on alert as 10th deadly Ebola outbreak strikes DR Congo

By The Inspirer 

The Government of Rwanda has an already set up skilled team ready to screen people who cross border into the country to ensure that Ebola epidemic does not spread to Rwanda from the neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), the Minister of Health has said.

Dr. Diane Gashumba made the disclosure on Saturday after a 10th Ebola outbreak was confirmed by the Ministry of Health in DRC, on August 1, 2018.

Ebola virus disease (formerly known as Ebola haemorrhagic fever) is a severe, often fatal illness, which kills up to 90% of affected people, and it is caused by Ebola virus, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). A person can get affected by the disease through contact with the already affected person, especially their secretion.

Ebola spreads through human-to-human transmission via direct contact (through broken skin or mucous membranes) with the blood, secretions, organs or other bodily fluids of infected people, and with surfaces and materials (such as bedding, clothing) contaminated with these fluids.

Latest figures from WHO show that as of July 24, 2018, there were confirmed some 54 Ebola cases in DR Congo, and 33 deaths attributed to the disease.

On July 24, 2018, the World Health Organization (WHO) together with the Minister of Health in DR Congo announced “Today marks the end of the ninth outbreak of Ebola in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).”

However, in their joint announcement, the institutions stated that unlike previous Ebola outbreaks in the country, this one involved four separate locations, including an urban centre with river connections to the capital and to neighbouring countries, as well as remote rainforest villages. There were initial concerns that the disease could spread to other parts of DRC, and to neighbouring countries.

A worker from World Health Organization (WHO )administers Ebola vaccination during the launch of an experimental vaccine in Mbandaka, north-western Democratic Republic of the Congo, on May 21, 2018.

Dr. Gashumba said that the disease virus is hosted and carried by monkeys and it spreads as they move from place to another.

Typical symptoms of Ebola vary but sudden onset of fever, intense weakness, muscle pain, headache and sore throat are commonly experienced at the beginning of the disease (‘the dry phase’). As the disease progresses, people commonly develop vomiting and diarrhoea (‘the wet phase’), rash, impaired kidney and liver function, and in some cases, both internal and external bleeding, according to World Health Organization.

“What we do is to teach Rwandans how the disease is transmitted such that when they see a person showing its signs they should avoid contact with the person’s secretion, and rather, the patient is taken to hospital as soon as possible,” Minister Gashumba said.

She highlighted the need for hygiene in disease control as epidemics such as Chlorella, Ebola and other hemorrhagic fevers often spread because there is poor sanitation giving instances of poor hand wash.

In 2015, when Ebola outbreak occurred in 2015, Gashumba said, Rwanda set up a team to control the epidemic, a campaign that became successful.

“We have trained personnel who do screening of people who entre the country [through borders].

“We have a comprehensive big team of trained people. The committee comprises various institutions including security organs, Ministry of Local Government, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, and the Ministry of Health, she said adding that there are also people in the standby. We just revive the process and already existing mechanism,” she observed adding that medics should also be trained and be vigilant.

She said that Ebola shares some signs with other common diseases such as Malaria, and people should not panic when they confuse the disease with others because of manifestation of such signs.

“Any person who suffers from headache or vomits should not be declared Ebola patient. There are other factors to consider [during examination of a patient’s condition] such as answering a question of whether the person got in contact with a diseased one, before coming to such conclusion,” she said.

The Minister advised people to be on the lookout when they make movements or journey to the affected areas by bearing in mind that the risk of the [Ebola] disease is there so that they are prepared to get protected against it.

WHO Director-General, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, and Regional Director for Africa, urged the DRC Government and the international community to build on the positive momentum generated by the quick containment of the Ebola outbreak.

“This effective response to Ebola should make the Government and partners confident that other major outbreaks affecting the country such as cholera and polio can also be tackled,” said Dr Tedros. “We must continue to work together, investing in strengthened preparedness and access to healthcare for the most vulnerable.”

Huge funding

WHO’s rapid response and scale up of operations in the DRC was funded by a total of US$4 million disbursement from the WHO Contingency Fund for Emergencies (CFE).

WHO and partners appealed for US$57 million to stop the spread of Ebola. The total funds received by all partners, as tracked by OCHA, amount to US$63 million.

The Ebola outbreak of 2014-2015, resulted in 28,616 Ebola cases reported in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, with 11,310 deaths due to the disease, WHO data show.

 

 

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Elias Hakizimana

Elias Hakizimana, CEO&Founder of The Inspirer Ltd,(www.rwandainspirer.com) is a professional Rwandan Journalist with Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism and Communication, received from University of Rwanda’s College of Arts and Social Sciences (CASS) in 2014. He served various media houses in Rwanda including Rwanda Broadcasting Agency (RBA) in 2013 and became passionate with English Online and Print Media Publications where he exercised his talent as a Freelance News Reporter for The New Times, The Independent, The Rwanda Focus, Panorama and more before he became a Self-Entrepreneur as the CEO and Founder of The Inspirer Limited in early 2017.

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