Rwanda: Schools Implement Hand Washing Campaign to Stave Off Ebola Threat

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

At around 11 am, twelve-year old Crispin Mizero, a pupil at Umuco Mwiza School is using a tippy tap to wash his hands, with soap.

Located in Kimironko Sector, Gasabo District, the school is among the many public institutions in Kigali that have started to implement the ministry of health guidelines on Ebola prevention.

The guidelines, which involve mass hand washing in public places are aimed at keeping Rwanda Ebola-free following the outbreak, a year ago, in neighbouring DR. Congo.

As of last week, this year the disease had killed at least 1965 people since the outbreak was first reported last year while nearly 3000 cases have been reported, according World Health Organisation figures.

The cases particularly the outbreak in the Goma city, which borders Rwanda in the west has put Kigali on high alert.

When The New Times visited some public places such as schools and banks, it established that they have set up hand washing places, especially at the gates.

"Our head teacher told us that there was an Ebola outbreak in our neighbouring country - the Democratic Republic of Congo - and we are many students who come from various parts of Rwanda. So, we have to use all means to prevent the outbreak," Mizero said.

Françoise Tumukunde, the Head Teacher of Umuco Mwiza School, the school has set up four tippy taps at the gate to serve pupils in the school as well as staff and visitor who enter every day.

"The school is a large such that it would be difficult to deal with an epidemic in case of an outbreak. That's why we focus our efforts on prevention," Tumukunde said.

For Tharcille Nyiranzabicaho, the Deputy Dean of Studies at GS Rugando in Gasabo District, tippy taps were an effective tool in keeping the students and teachers clean.

"We have about 2000 students in nursery, primary and secondary school who come from different families; so it would be hard to manage their sanitation but installing tippy tap hand washers at the entrance plays a big role in their hygiene," said Nyiranzabicaho.

A deadly viral disease, Ebola is spread through direct contact with bodily fluids such as urine, saliva, sweat, faeces, vomit, breast milk, and semen of a person who is sick or has died of the disease.

Ebola symptoms

Experts say Ebola symptoms may appear anywhere from 2-21 days after contact with the virus, with an average of 8-10 days but many common illnesses can have these same symptoms, including influenza or malaria.

Recovery from Ebola depends on good supportive clinical care and the patient's immune response.

According to the WHO, an infected person cannot spread the disease until they develop symptoms.

Symptoms can be sudden and include: fever, severe weakness, muscle pain, headache, and sore throat.

This is followed by: vomiting, diarrhoea, rash, symptoms of impaired kidney and liver function, and in some cases, both internal and external bleeding (for example, oozing from the gums, or blood in the stools).

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