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Winning the War Against COVID-19

by Gerald Mbanda
8:57 pm

Rwanda is one of the first countries in Africa to impose a total lockdown as a preventive measure to the spread of corona virus. The country is now on a partial lock down, with restrictions not allowing people to move from one province to another, keeping social distancing, wearing a face mask all the time and stopping all movements by 8.00pm. Large social gatherings like weddings, religious services and ceremonies are still restricted.

In the last few days, the ministry of health reported zero new COVID-19 infections for two consecutive days followed with 2 new infections on the third day. On Sunday evening 17th, May 2020, the total number of confirmed cases were 292 of which 197 had recovered, while active cases were 95, and there is no single death that has occurred so far. With the total number of those recovered exceeding patients still under treatment and the increase in the rate of testing to over 2,000 people per day, the results raise high hopes of winning the war against COVID-19 soon.

We have to thank the medical teams that are working around the clock, the government task force, security organs and the citizens for complying with the preventive measures including the stressful #Guma Mu Rugo during the total lockdown. We cannot forget to thank friendly countries especially The Peoples’ Republic of China that provided the much needed medical supplies and knowledge sharing by Chinese medical experts with those of the Rwandan Ministry of health through video conference.

As the world still struggles with the challenges of defeating the COVID-19 pandemic, it is evident that China has taken the lead in the global fight against COVID-19, by supporting many countries around the world, availing the essential medical equipment like testing kits, face masks, ventilators and others to fight the COVID-19 pandemic, despite their own domestic struggle with the pandemic at home.

The good news is that China today, has achieved great success in fighting the virus, and the economic sector is back to full operation. Thanks to the Chinese government’s efforts in implementing stringent measures to stop the spread of the virus.

There are a number of lessons that we learnt from the COVID-19 Pandemic. One of them is that more often than not, at individual level or as countries, we do not challenge ourselves to realize our full potential, unless we are driven or pushed by a crisis. When Rwandan medical engineers announced that they had made a ventilator that could assist COVID-19 patients and was of similar quality as the imported ones, I wondered why they had not thought about the project before not only for production of locally made ventilators but also for other imported medical equipment and supplies. When it was deemed mandatory to wear face masks and we could not find enough in the country, local textile companies were able to produce enough for all Rwandans.

This made me reflect on one Rwandan proverb which suggests that bad circumstances sometimes may not be entirely bad as something good is likely to come out (byago ntugahore ariko ntugahere). These home grown solutions and self-reliance measures taken by Rwanda have been well fought battles in the war against COVID-19. The spirit of looking for solutions to our challenges from within rather than waiting for outsiders is being implemented in the daily mindset routine of the Rwanda people in a number of sectors.

The deployment of robots by the ministry of health to handle some tasks in hospitals in order to minimize human to human contact was quite an impressive innovation as it minimized the risk of COVID-19 transmission especially between patients and health workers. The Rwanda National Police did and is still doing a commendable job of enforcing COVID-19 preventive measures, and also providing online services to the citizens.

For the first time, the Police used drones to deliver messages to the citizens to observe the lockdown. Rwanda is also known for using drones in the health sector by delivering urgently needed supplies like blood to health facilities in rural areas. The use of technology and innovation is slowly but steadily helping to improve provision of services in different fields.

We should applaud the government of Rwanda’s efforts in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, by saving lives of Rwandan nationals and foreigners affected without discrimination and at no cost. Among the people who were treated and recovered, I saw a Burundian national who was overjoyed by the high level of care and treatment he received. The cooperation of different government agencies delivers the unity of purpose required on the path towards winning the war against COVID-19.

On the global stage, there is no single country that can win the war against the corona virus pandemic alone. The COVID-19 pandemic has affected both the rich and poor countries equally, it has affected the lowly and the mighty in societies all over the world. The COVID-19 pandemic does not respect territorial borders or political systems.

It is therefore important to note that in order to win the global war against the COVID-19 pandemic, solidarity and cooperation among world nations is not an option but necessary as the attack by COVID-19 pandemic is an attack against the human race.

Gerald Mbanda is a journalist and author of the book; Effective Leadership is Key to Transformational Governance: China and Rwanda as case studies.

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