Munich, 15 February 2019
Excellency, Prime Minister of Bangladesh; Steve Morrison; Dr Mike Ryan; distinguished ladies and gentlemen: Thank you for inviting us to participate in this important effort.
We have to think rigorously about the link between conflict and epidemics, and as has also been stated, how the global effort can come together with national efforts and support each other. I think it has been demonstrated how that would benefit everyone.
The Ebola outbreak in, for example, West Africa struck nations at peace. By contrast, the current outbreak in DRC has remained contained, despite insecurity there. One difference is that health workers in DRC have experience with detection and containment, and they seem able to relate effectively to the population. So there is that close link.
In West Africa, the disease went unrecognised for months, and there was a trust deficit in public health messages that hindered response. As a result, the ultimate cost ran into the tens of billions, according to some estimates.
Trust, communication, and good data are really the foundation of public health preparedness and response.
In Rwanda, we have 60,000 community health workers deployed around the country. This allows the Ministry of Health to track 23 priority diseases on a daily basis, using an Electronic Epidemic Surveillance and Response System (eISDR). We have also integrated the core of the WHO International Health Regulations into our strategic planning.
In response to the DRC outbreak, Rwanda updated its Ebola preparedness plan. Readiness rose from 55% to 84% from May 2018 to January 2019, as assessed by WHO. This work included several Ebola simulation exercises involving a wide range of public institutions. Security agencies are involved and prepared to assist when called upon.
The University of Rwanda has an advanced field epidemiology training program with CDC based on the One Health model, meaning that human, animal, and agricultural disease threats are assessed in tandem.
This is to show that it is within the means of countries at Rwanda’s income level, working with WHO and other partners and institutions, to provide adequate health emergency preparedness.
So with this I wish to thank you again for allowing us to make this contribution. Thank you very much.