RBC deploys trackers to look a¬fter stubborn Covid-19 patients

Monday July 19 2021
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A Covid-19 patient with a tracker to monitor movements while on home-based care. PHOTO | CYRIL NDEGEYA

By Ange Iliza

As infections spike, contact tracing and following up on thousands of patients under homebased care is becoming challenging for healthcare workers.

Rwanda Biomedical Center has treated over 95 percent of the current 14,600 patients from their homes with the help of community health workers and regular follow up phone calls.

As cases rise, health workers are getting overwhelmed, making it di­fficult to follow up on every case.

Cases of irresponsible patients prompted RBC to come up with strategies to track patients. Wearable, black, nonremovable, watch-like trackers are given to every adult patient being treated from their homes.

The trackers are connected to GPS that notifies RBC’s tracking team when a patient leaves isolation.

According to RBC, 90 percent of patients in homebased care are given the trackers. Children, the elderly and people who are not able to charge the trackers are not eligible to own the trackers.


Cyprien Karangwa, 54, was given the tracker when he was sent home from the hospital to home-based treatment.

The tracker was sealed to her arm for over a week. It would light red whenever he tripped or attempted to leave his home.

“It was effective because whenever I tried to leave, they would call me immediately. It was challenging because even I had to charge it while wearing it and it was removed later a er I recovered,” Mr Karangwa said.

Mr Karangwa said there are repercussions to home-based care including stigma and fear of spreading the virus. He lives with his wife who has underlying health issues and children. He was terrified that her wife or children would catch the virus.

Although Mr Karangwa has recovered, it frustrates him to see neighbors and friends treating him di erently because he once had Covid-19. “I am happy I recovered without infecting anyone else. But some people still identify me as ‘the Covid-19 man’. It was only a few weeks and it has become part of me. It can be annoying sometimes,” Mr Karangwa recounts.

Mr Karangwa was recently given his second jab of Covid-19 vaccine. He is among the slightly over 4 percent of Rwanda’s 12.6 population that has been vaccinated.