WHO Representative co-hosts an EVD community mobilization exercise

Since 1 August 2018, when the Ministry of Health of the Democratic Republic of the Congo notified the World Health Organization of a new outbreak of Ebola virus disease (EVD) in North Kivu Province, in the eastern part of the country, the Ebola virus, as of 30 September 2019 claimed the lives of 2133 people in the DRC. Rwanda is a country bordering the DRC with some Districts being near to the Ebola affected areas. The Government of Rwanda initiated preparedness mechanisms to minimize the risk of importation and cross border transmission of EVD as well as to ensure an effective response. Risk Communication and Community Engagement is one of the most important pillars of preparedness and outbreak response.

Dr. Patrick Ndimubanzi, Rwanda State Minister for Public and Primary Healthcare, His Excellency Mr Takayuki Miyashita, Ambassador of Japan to Rwanda and Dr Kasonde Mwinga, World Health Organisation’s Representative in Rwanda co-hosted an Ebola Virus Disease community mobilization exercise in Kigali city, Kicukiro District, Gahanga Sector. This out of center area is one of Kigali’s rural suburbs and a small trading center which is located about 20 kilometers from the capital. Strategically located at one of the entrances of Kigali, Gahanga is well connected with Kigali and with the future Bugesera International Airport, which is still under construction.

The event was an occasion to mobilize rural communities, schools and people of all generations. It included the projection of a video about EVD Water Hand and Sanitation (WASH) basic measures, entertainment on a stage using video airing on a giant screen, an EVD song delivered live on stage, and key messages sent out by the Rwanda’s Health Communication Center. An verbal educational quiz was administered to the young students coming from Gahanga and neighboring villages. The whole mobilization exercise was followed by the distribution of educational materials on the spread and prevention of the Ebola virus. It was crowned with the distribution of prizes for the best answers. The Awards were delivered by the Japanese Ambassador, the State Minister for Public and Primary Healthcare and Dr Kasonde Mwinga the WHO Representative in Rwanda.

The event focused on increasing EVD community mobilization using an array of communication tools, including mass media communication, entertainment, music and military visibility. The cooperation and success story of the people of Japan about the fight against Ebola in Rwanda was highlighted by the Ambassador of Japan. The Japanese cooperation aims principally at strengthening partnerships, promoting cooperation and coordination for preparedness and readiness for EVD and other Public Health concerns.

The Government of Japan focuses on development cooperation to protect and empower individuals, and realize human security. We understand how important it is to prevent EVD outbreak before it happens in Rwanda and it is a great honour for us to contribute to EVD prevention. We express gratitude to the Ministry of Health and the WHO Rwanda for carrying out this important project. We supported the health sector of Rwanda for years cooperating with the Global Fund and Gavi Vaccine Alliance, and will continue to support it vibrantly said the Ambassador of Japan to Rwanda, His Excellency Takayuki Miyashita.

This mobilization event at community level is a part of a WHO project of USD 1 million funded by the Government of Japan to strengthen the capacity of Rwanda at National and District level. The scope is to prevent, timely detect andeffectively respond to the possible spread of the 2018 Ebola virus disease (EVD) outbreak from DRC, and reinforce capacities for detection and response with the other priority public health emergencies, as outlined in Rwanda’s National Action Plan on Health Security (NAPHS).

The mobilization event resulted in a partner’s recognition event deployed at grass-root level, with concerned communities, the Ministry of Health, Rwandan health partners and WHO Country Office in Rwanda.

Source: World Health Organization. Africa