Azar arrived in Rwanda on Sunday following a visit to DRC where he and accompanying delegation of twenty-nine people including delegates from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), United States Agency for International Development (USAID), National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), and local U.S. government officials assessed the situation on the ground of Ebola prevention measures and visited Ebola treatment center in Butembo.
Upon arrival in Rwanda, the delegation also met with Rwanda Minister of Health Dr. Diane Gashumba, and Ministry of Health and Rwanda Biomedical Center representatives to celebrate achievements in health system strengthening through a partnership between the two countries.
Secretary Azar reaffirmed the U.S. support in combating the Ebola crisis across borders and commended the Rwanda Health Sector for building strong capacity in prevention and preparedness efforts.
Among key prevention measures are frequent washing of hands with clean water and soap, avoiding contact with blood and body fluids, as well as items that would have come in contact with an infected person’s blood and body fluids.
Ebola is transmitted through blood and body fluids, including vomit, urine, saliva, sweat. Symptoms include fever, fatigue, joint pain, headache, diarrhea, skin rash, vomiting, red eyes, stomach-ache and bleeding through different body parts.
Rwanda has a detailed National Preparedness Plan in place and has trained health workers in early detection and response, educated communities about Ebola, vaccinated health workers in high-risk areas, equipped health facilities, and continues to conduct simulation exercises to maintain a high level of readiness.
Screening for Ebola symptoms at points of entry has been ongoing since the beginning of the outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and has been reinforced since the confirmation of a case in Goma.
An Ebola Treatment Centre was put in place and 23 isolation units are being prepared in hospitals in 15 priority districts.
Ebola response simulation exercises are on a regular basis within the community, borders, airport and treatment Centre to test Rwanda’s preparedness in response to a case, which includes emergency Operations Centre activation, active surveillance, case management, and laboratory testing.
About 3000 health workers in high-risk areas have been vaccinated as a preventative measure, including more than 1100 in Rubavu district.
To date, Rwanda has trained over 23,957 people including Doctors, Nurses, hospital staff, Community Health Workers, religious leaders, Red Cross Volunteers and security organs. Meanwhile, special ambulances are in place to handle any Ebola suspected case on time.
Rwanda has in recent past stepped up efforts to prevent Ebola from spreading to the country, including scaling up screenings at all points of entry, surveillance, vaccinating frontline workers including health and immigration officers, public sensitization, among other measures.
Following his visit to Rwanda, Azar will resume the trip to Uganda. At least 2000 people have died of Ebola in DRC.