How Japan has worked with UNDP to mitigate COVID-19 effects in Rwanda

On 23 August 2021 at 05:51

As the world continues to battle the adverse effects of COVID-19 pandemic, collaboration is of utmost importance to enhance compliance with instituted health guidelines, save lives and eventually bring the situation to normalcy.

It is against this background that the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in partnership with the Government of Japan has been helping Rwanda to mitigate effects of the pandemic.

Through UNDP, Japan has provided over US$1.2 million that helped Rwanda to mitigate effects of the pandemic in different areas.

Initially, part of the funds were allocated to strengthen the capacity of COVID-19 laboratories across the country and helped to hire over 100 health workers deployed to 11 newly established centers for COVID-19 testing.

It has resulted into increased sample tests and reduced time it would take for the release of results.

Under this framework, selected hospitals received all necessary equipment to provide oxygen for critically ill patients at intensive care units.

Among others, the funds helped to provide equipment including masks shields, face masks to 41 hospitals, train frontline workers and robots deployed to disinfect different places.

UNDP Country Representative, Maxwell Gomera has told IGIHE that they rushed to contribute to the fight against COVID-19 considering the pandemic’s nature which requires stronger collaboration than ever.

“The pandemic has awakened us to be far-sighted and concert efforts because no country can feel safe when neighbors are hit hard by the pandemic. It is under this context that UNDP and partners like the Government of Rwanda and Japan teamed up in the cumbersome situation to mitigate occasioned effects during and after the pandemic,” he said.

Gomera has also rallied foreign countries to continue providing support within their capacities to fight the pandemic.

“This time around, we should be much concerned about consolidating efforts to fight the pandemic which continues to take people’s lives instead of turning against each other. I would like to call upon developed countries for emergent support to African countries battling to access medical supplies and vaccines,” he noted.

The Ambassador of Japan to Rwanda, Imai Masahiro has also stressed the need for consolidated efforts if the world is to defeat the pandemic.

“I am convinced that the most important thing during these difficult times is concerting efforts to help developing countries access vaccines and other medical supplies,” he revealed.

Amb. Masahiro also referred to the use of technology in the project with UNDP, which is aimed at containing the spread of COVID-19 in Rwanda.

“Rwanda is a country moving fast to embrace technology on the African continent. The use of innovation in COVID-19 response should have a positive impact on the frontline healthcare facilities. Technology is not only bound to positively impact Rwanda but also neighboring countries,” he affirmed.

In February this year, UNDP handed over two Ultraviolet-C (UV-C robots) to Rwanda Biomedical Center (RBC). These robots are used to disinfect treatment centers and public places to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

The acquired UV-C Robots have unique features which include the UV-C lamps that emit ultraviolet lights destroying deadly microorganisms that may be missed during the manual cleaning process, hence helping to reduce infection rates for patients and healthcare workers.

Among other capabilities these robots have is the capacity to undertake speedy cleaning and disinfecting patient and operating rooms, labor and delivery, ICU rooms, isolation discharge rooms and other indoor spaces. On average, one robot can disinfect one room in 32 minutes. They can also kill virus other than SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.

Dieudonné Nshimiyimana, a health worker at Nyarugenge Hospital which has been turned into COVID-19 treatment center has explained that these robots are efficient to disinfect varied items.

“A robot can perform the task that would require five persons in 30 minutes. It is fast, reliable and has the capacity to kill the virus at 99.9 percent,” he said.

Rwanda confirmed the first Coronavirus patient on 14th March 2020. Since then the government has been instituting different measures to prevent spread of the virus including lockdown imposed at different times, halting businesses, suspending movements, closing borders among others which shook the economy.

Through the funding of Japan, UNDP has helped 227 members from 13 cooperatives of persons living with disability across the country to mitigate COVID-19 effects.

Beneficiaries received food relief, enlightened on COVID-19 prevention measures while their cooperatives received funds to resume operations that had halted during lockdown.

One of these cooperatives include Union of Deaf Women Cooperative (UDWCO) involved in hand crafts, sewing and knitting in Kigali City.

The President of UDWCO, Micheline Nikuze has revealed that the cooperative encountered losses during lockdown that businesses would not resume had it not been the funding of UNDP.

“We were hit hard that time because we had no income generating business. We are however grateful for the support of UNDP which intervened with food assistance and provided funding to resume operations,” she noted.

Nikuze explained that received funds helped them to resume business promising to financially transform their lives during and after the pandemic.

The efforts to mitigate effects of COVID-19 saw various medical equipment purchased to enhance Rwanda's response.
Medical personnel were trained to reinforce the capability of laboratories and Intensive Care Unit (ICU) at treatment centres and hospitals.
13 cooperatives of persons with disabilities were supported to revamp their businesses.
Ambassador of Japan to Rwanda, Imai Masahiro says that all countries and international organisations must fight together to ensure that vaccines and other medical supplies are equitably distributed.