The Director of Wellcome Trust, one of the Government’s key partners in the Ebola vaccination programs, commended the efforts applied by Rwanda to prevent the importation of the Ebola virus into the country. “Ebola has never come to Rwanda and it might,” he said opening his speech in Rusizi District on December 29, 2019.
Jeremy Farrar visited Rwanda in the last week of December 2019 and toured vaccination sites in Rusizi (where he, also received the first dose of the vaccine) and Rubavu districts. While commending what has been done to protect Rwandan residents, Jeremy Farrar paid a special thanks to a special group. “We are sending best wishes to Community Health Workers because without them, there can’t be health,” he said. “Because of what you are doing here, you are protecting your family members, your whole community and that is a remarkable thing,” he added.
This special thanks note was emphasized by Dr Diane Gashumba, the Minister of Health, who later mentioned that most of the good practices that the Ministry takes credit from are actually performed by Community Health Workers. “you have been at the center of community mobilization for healthy behaviors that helped preventing Ebola spreading from neighboring affected areas,” she said mentioning the constant mobilization for hand washing and the avoiding of consuming meat from animal that die of natural causes. "You are our shield," she added.
Since its launch on December 8th, 1000 people had already received their first dose in Rusizi District before the end of 2019. Jeremy Farrar and the Mayor of Rusizi were among those who received their first doses too on December 29, 2019. In her speech, Minister Gashumba said that having the Mayor receive the vaccine sends a powerful message to the communities exhorting them to also get vaccinated and it shows leadership commitment towards Ebola prevention in the District.
For Jeremy Farrar who has been exhibiting, on twitter, love for Rwanda that he was visiting for the first time, receiving the first dose of Ebola vaccine is one more reason for him to come back to this country. “I will leave Rwanda with a very special gift and a sore arm but I promise to come back to receive my second dose in February 2020 after 56 days”
The Government of Rwanda has partnered with the London-based research charity to avail Ebola vaccination to 200,000. “This will allow us to vaccinate our Community Health Workers who are supposed to always be at the frontline in an event of a confirmed case,” the Minister said.