Voice of Sport

Ebola: Sports programmes in Africa interrupted but Rwanda, Cuba first responders

Raul Castro urges fellow Latin American leaders to work together against a disease, he says ‘threatens us all’ as he opened a summit on Monday


RWANDA is one of the shining examples of a practical response to the Ebola threat that is throwing sports programmes around Africa into a quandary.

A total of 3,430 healthcare workers in Rwanda have so far been trained to handle the deadly Ebola disease in case of an outbreak, the Ministry of Health said in Kigali on Tuesday.

Meanwhile in Havana, Cuban President Raul Castro urged fellow Latin American leftist leaders to work together to fight Ebola, saying the disease “threatens us all” as he opened a summit on Monday.

Combat

Cuba has sought to place itself at the forefront of the international response to the Ebola epidemic, sending 165 doctors and nurses to West Africa to combat the disease, with another 300 on the way.

Also in another show of selflessness, a British nurse who survived Ebola has flown back to the country where he caught the virus to re-join efforts to tackle the epidemic.

Prevention

William Pooley from Eyke in Suffolk said he was “delighted” to return to Sierra Leone as he attempts “to prevent as many unnecessary deaths as possible.

“The real emergency is in West Africa, and the teams out there need all the support we can give them.”

Ebola has caused some of the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations qualifying soccer matches to be played outside affected countries of Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone.

Trained

In Kigali, Nathan Mugume, Head of Rwanda Health Communication Centre, said on Tuesday: “We have trained 3,430 healthcare workers already and are now carrying out re-fresher training.

“All those trained practice what they learnt by doing assimilation exercises so as to gain confidence,” Mugume added.

Measures

The revelation comes a day after the ministry stressed that the Ebola epidemic can be averted if the general public became fully educated about how it spreads and how they can help prevent it.

Other preventive measures include a fully fledged Ebola ward at the Rwandan Military Hospital in Kanombe, screening facilities and personnel at all entry points into the country, as well as isolation facilities in all hospitals.

Prevention

Health workers were trained on Ebola control and management – case management, case control, and prevention and how to use preventive gear.

More than 250,000 visitors have been screened since the beginning of the exercise four months ago. About 30 were fully (22 days) quarantined in facilities before they were declared safe.

More on Ebola

Dr Thierry Nyatanyi, the Head of Division for Epidemics, Surveillance and Response at Rwanda Biomedical Centre, says Ebola hemorrhagic fever is a highly contagious disease transmitted from person to person through body contact.

Little is known about the cause of Ebola. All that is known is that it is caused by a virus, he says.

Signs and symptoms

Signs and symptoms include fever, headache, joint and muscle pain, sore throat, general body weakness and diarrhea.

Others include vomiting, abdominal pain, skin rash, red eyes, and bleeding from all body openings. These signs and symptoms appear between two to 21 days after exposure to the virus.

Transmission

Ebola is highly infectious, kills in a short time but it can be prevented. The virus is not transmitted through air, water or food. You can only be exposed through direct contact with blood or secretions of an infected person such as sweat, blood, urine, stool, vomits and other body fluids.

Transmission is mainly through contact with a patient or person who has died from Ebola, or touching contaminated objects like needles, or touching contaminated animals or their fluids.

What the public can do?

Currently, no Ebola case has been registered in Rwanda but prevention is better than cure.

Travelers should be vigilant and avoid close contact with Ebola cases or a person who has died of Ebola.

Anyone presenting Ebola signs or symptoms should immediately seek medical attention at the nearest health facility. Any person who comes in close contact with a patient with Ebola signs and symptoms or a person who has died from Ebola should seek immediate medical attention.

Screening

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Health has announced new screening procedures for anyone who’s arriving in the country from the USA or Spain — two of the Western countries that have recorded Ebola deaths in recent days.

A passenger who has been in any of the two countries in the last 22 days, according to the new instructions released on Sunday, is now required to report their medical condition everyday by dialing 114 between 7am and 8pm for the duration of their stay in Rwanda (if less than 21 days) or for the first 21 days of their stay.

Affected

This is regardless of whether or not there are showing Ebola-like symptoms, officials said.

This is in an addition to the already existing measures, including travel bans for people who have been to the most Ebola-hit nations, namely Guinea, Liberia, or Sierra Leone, within the last 22 days.

In Guinea, British scientists have arrived to begin work on finding a cure for Ebola. Dr Peter Horby, of the Centre for Tropical Medicine and Global Health at Oxford University, is leading a four-strong team which will fast-track trials on prototype drugs.

– Additional reporting by [Rwanda] The New Times