Rwanda Fast Tracking Purchase of Ebola Vaccine

Photo: New Times
Rwandan schools have implemented hand washing campaign to stave off Ebola threat.

Rwanda is in talks to acquire at least 100,000 doses of an Ebola vaccine for a mass vaccination campaign that targets traders around the country's border with DR Congo, according to reports.

The Ministry of Health confirmed to The New Times that the government is currently fast tracking negotiations to buy doses of an Ebola vaccine.

Without divulging details, Malick Kayumba, the Spokesperson of the Ministry of Health, said Tuesday that negotiations are still ongoing.

"This is still under negotiations but Rwanda is doing everything possible so that the process moves fast because this is one way of preventing Ebola," he said. "And Rwanda is ready to do whatever is possible to protect its citizens."

We will give more information soon, he said when pressed for further comments.

The BBC reported on Tuesday that more than 60,000 traders in eastern DR Congo who cross the border regularly into Rwanda and Uganda are to be vaccinated.

Jean Jacques Muyembe, the Co-ordinator of the Ebola response in DR Congo, was quoted by the BBC saying that the disease has killed more than 1,900 there in the last year.

It is not clear when the mass vaccination campaign will start and the cost associated as well as the type of vaccine to be used.

However, media reports suggest that the experimental vaccine to be used is backed by international health experts, including the World Health Organisation.

The vaccine in question, the BBC reported, is produced by Johnson & Johnson, an American multinational medical devices, pharmaceutical, and is different from the single dose Merck vaccine that has been used over the past year in DR Congo.

The WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus on Monday announced that they now have an Ebola vaccine that is more than 97 percent effective and treatments that are more than 90 percent effective if used early enough.

Dr Tedros said in tweet that "Ebola is preventable and treatable. We need to make sure everyone in the affected area knows that."

The latest development comes after the UN health agency last week announced that the co-sponsors of the Ebola therapeutics trial in the DR Congo had announced advances that will bring patients a better chance of survival. Two out of the four drugs being tested were found to be effective in treating Ebola.

No case of Ebola has been reported in Rwanda where the government has intensified preventive measures.

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