18 June 2019

Rwanda: RDF Intervenes in Treating Rare Disease Among Female Students

Following the disease outbreak, the Ministry of Health said the situation is being controlled.

Rwanda Defence Force through its outreach programme "Army Week" has intervened in controlling and treating mass hysteria disease that has so far been reported in two exclusively girls schools.

The disease which was first reported a month ago weakens the knees, which incapacitates the victim to walk.

Mass hysteria is the rapid spread of illness signs and symptoms that affects members of a cohesive group, originating from a nervous disturbance involving excitation, loss, or alteration of function, whereby physical complaints that are exhibited unconsciously have no corresponding organic causes.

The schools are New Explorers Girls Academy (NEGA), a high school in Gashora sector of Bugesera District and Rambura Girls School in Nyabihu District.

Currently, 35 students from Rambura Girls have been affected and are being treated at different hospitals in the area while 14 students are said to have been affected by the disease from New Explorers Girls Academy and are being treated at Nyamata Hospital.

Speaking to The New Times Hamza Numan, the head teacher of NEGA, he said that at Nyamata Hospital, the affected students are being taken care of by doctors deployed by RDF under its Army Week outreach programme.

"We took 12 students to Nyamata Hospital but later parents brought us two more students who had previously gone home to seek treatment. The first student showed the signs of the disease on May 18," he said.

He added that the school is taking charge of the students' medical costs while the ministry of health is closely monitoring them, in collaboration with their education counterparts.

"We have not identified any new cases about the diseases since the students were taken to the hospital though none of them has yet recovered," he told The New Times.

Following the disease outbreak, the ministry of health said the situation is being controlled.

"In response to the mass hysteria disease, experts from Ministry of Health have been conducting investigations and are providing care to the students. The situation is being managed and under control," reads a twitter statement by the Ministry of Health.

This is not the first time such rare disease attack a school community.

In 2012, the disease attacked a school in New York where a dozen students, who were most friends and all girls, were affected by a similar condition, where they experienced involuntary jerks and tics.

Sometimes their limbs, neck or face would suddenly spasm; other times they would twitch, grunt or shout, according to a report.

Speaking to The New Times, Dr Emmanuel Kayitare, the Director of Shyira District Hospital in Nyabihu District - where some of the students from Rambura are being treated - most of the affected girls are between the age of 12 and 16 years.

Further reporting by Eddie Nsabimana.

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