The Ministry of Health has started screening for Ebola at Rwanda’s border with Tanzania in Rusumo in the Eastern Province following news of reported cases of the viral hemorrhagic disease in the neighboring country.
The government has also deployed a rapid response team at the border post and is building capacity for doctors in the eastern districts of Kayonza and Kirehe, on how to handle Ebola cases. It is also considering epidemiological surveillances in these districts.
A suspected Ebola patient is reported to have died in Dar es Salaam on September 8, but the Tanzanian government refuted the claims saying that the person had tested negative for the Ebola Virus.
Until then, only Nyagatare District in Rwanda’s Eastern Province was considered among Ebola risk zones because it borders Uganda which recently experienced two fatalities after the virus spread from neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo.
On September 18, the World Health Organisation informed all member states that Tanzania had officially reported that no case of Ebola Virus Disease was confirmed in the country.
Tanzania said that tests on two suspected cases turned out negative. However, WHO said that Tanzania had failed to comply with the guidelines of considering secondary confirmation testing for Ebola at any of the organisation’s nearby collaborating centres for viral haemorrhagic fever.
With the uncertainties over the state of Ebola in Tanzania, Rwanda is taking precautions in order to ensure the safety of its citizens.
Speaking to Rwanda Today, the head of division, Epidemiology and Surveillance Response Dr José Nyamusore, said doctors and nurses in Rusumo, Kirehe and Kayonza were already being trained.
“We did not consider the Tanzanian border among high-risk zones but after the suspected Ebola case, we have deployed specialists and are offering training,” said Dr Nyamusore.
“The training will enable doctors and nurses in hospitals and health centers as well as volunteers to carry out epidemiological surveillance activities in case of an outbreak; simulation exercises were conducted to help participants understand what to do in a real-life situation.”
Gérardine Mukandarikanguye, the vice mayor in charge of social affairs in Kirehe District lauded efforts by the Health Ministry to boost Ebola surveillance.
"We are pleased to have doctors trained on epidemiological surveillance of Ebola, but people’s ignorance about protection measures remains high,” said Ms Mukandarikanguye. “We are requesting the Rwanda Biomedical Center to conduct regular awareness campaigns in the area on the epidemic.”
Some six doctors from Kirehe District and seven from Muhanga District are being trained on how to detect a suspected case of Ebola .
Ms Mukandarikanguye hopes that the doctors and nurses will pass on the knowledge to other medics.