Rwanda mulls home-based care for coronavirus patients

Wednesday August 12 2020

corona

The surge in the number of patients with coronavirus in the country has forced the government to consider launching home-based care. Photo | Cyril Ndegeya  

ARAFAT MUGABO
By ARAFAT MUGABO
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The government is planning to launch home-based isolation and care as hospitals contemplates discharging asymptomatic Covid-19 positive cases.

Rwanda Today has learnt that since April when the government intensified testing, the daily recorded cases have been increasing piling pressure on hospital beds for Covid-19 patients.

The decision for home-based treatment comes as referral hospitals also face inadequate bed spaces for patients suffering from other ailments.

“We already have World Health Organisation (WHO) guidelines with criteria for individuals and villages to be part of the home-based management for coronavirus patients," said Dr Daniel Ngamije, Health Minister.

“We are at the stage of piloting the model in different districts to see the feasibility, requirements needed in each area and after will be implemented to lessen the impact of Covid-19 on beds in treatment centres,” he says.

Dr Ngamije said that the government are gathering more information from countries which have already implemented the protocols before launching it in all parts of the country.

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Rwanda Today understands that the decision to consider home-based treatment is one of the current strategies Ministry of Health is developing to provide a solution in the management of the increasing numbers and the anticipated surge in Covid-19 cases in the country.

The available data from Rwanda Biomedical Centre (RBC) show that 90 per cent of infected persons, admitted to Covid-19 treatment centres are either asymptomatic or mildly symptomatic.

The health minister says there is nothing to worry about home-based treatment because patients can be thoroughly managed at home provided that proper laid-down procedures are followed.

Additionally, Rwanda's Health Ministry assures the public that homebased treatment will be possible with the help of Community Health Workers who are currently being trained on how to test suspects and protection measures.

Dr Ngamije said CBHIs will help in the diagnosis, contact tracing, educating the public, distribution of protective gears, and close follow up on recovered patients in their homes.

He said that deploying community health workers is in line with the plan to scale up testing as close as possible to people’s homes as the process for homebased management is getting finalised.

“Coronavirus pandemic requires a change from hospital-centred towards community-centred care. This is why we are deploying CHWs to lead widespread testing, contact tracing, isolation and quarantine as key to slowing the spread of the virus, “said Dr Ngamije.

When asked whether the option to deploy community health Workers was due to an unprecedented surge of patients overwhelming their healthcare systems, Dr Ngamije, said the choice was taken after a significant role played by the community health workers in reducing Malaria deaths and other endemics in the country.

“We need advanced training if we are to support in the fight against the virus because the knowledge many of us have about the pandemic is little,” said Ms Acquillas Nyirabaziruwundi, a community Health Worker in Kigarama sector.

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