Photograph — Huffington post

Rwanda in collaboration with the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) launched a colossal vaccination campaign-Umurinzi at the Grande Barrière one-stop border post in Rubavu District to fight against the deadly Ebola Virus Disease (EVD). 

Through this campaign, Rwanda will vaccinate a total of 200,000 locals from Rubavu and Rusizi districts which shares a border with the Democratic Republic of Congo. While DRC will vaccinate over 500,000 residents from various locations within the country, especially in communities that have experienced an outbreak of EVD.

Dr Diane Gashumba, Rwanda’s Health Minister stated that the campaign is “an important step in the fight against Ebola Virus Disease in our communities.” The vaccine will be targeted at people who frequently move from one country to another, this includes adults, adolescents, and children above the age of two. 

Gashumba admonished the public to trust the vaccine because it has been tested and trusted by the World Health Organization (WHO) and has “been tried in some countries such as the U.S, France, United Kingdom, Sierra Leone, Ghana, Tanzania, and Uganda.” 

The vaccine, Ad26-ZEBOV-GP, is an experimental drug produced by U.S. pharmaceuticals giant, Johnson & Johnson and was used for the first time in DRC’s Goma earlier last month. Gashumba added that the idea of the campaign is “to protect those with high chances of getting in contact with people living in areas where Ebola has been reported to be active.”

According to WHO, as of the 4th of December 2019, DRC has the world’s second-largest Ebola epidemic on record with a total of 3313 cases, 2203 deaths and 1084 survivors. Together with the efforts of #AfricaAgainstEbola which is sponsored by the African Union (AU), and other DRC neighbouring countries, the fight against Ebola will quickly draw to an end as countless tactics are currently on the move to eradicate the further spread of the EVD.

Although there has been no confirmed case of Ebola in Rwanda, The country while taking steps to mitigate the spread of EVD have vaccinated a total of 3,000 persons who include medics, community health workers and security organs among other actors who meet many patients in their day-to-day responsibilities.

About 53 Rwandans were provided with the Ebola vaccine during the campaign after several educative sessions and awareness activities were organized in the community. The Ad26-ZEBOV-GP vaccine beneficiaries were told that they will be reminded through text messages to go for the second injection after 56 days.

Although not a complete cure, the vaccine is set to reduce the spread of the EVD amongst DRC and its neighbouring countries.

By Treasure Nnabugwu.

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