In 2019 when the first case of COVID-19 was reported in China, in Rwanda we did not think that COVID-19 was going to be as serious as it is today. Only a few months after the first case of COVID-19 was reported in Rwanda on 14th March 2020, health institutions started to get ready, and the panic was growing big among people.
The main challenge that came with the pandemic was that very few things were known about the virus, which also contributed a lot to the misinformation that was going around. After one week, on March 21st, 2020, the government of Rwanda announced its first lockdown to contain the pandemic. Health institutions continued to deal with the COVID-19 cases that were increasing every day and started a campaign about educating people on the few things that were known by then. In this line of campaigning, the government of Rwanda – through its Ministry of Health – worked with organizations involved in the health sector to educate Rwandans about the pandemic.
In this regard Rinda Ubuzima, a Rwandan local NGO known for its contribution in clinical research and health promotion, and currently involved in the community engagement and outreach activities regarding the provision of the Ebola vaccine in Rwanda, mobilized funds from Welcome trust and Johnson and Johnson to train health professionals from different parts of the country. In partnership with Health[e]Foundation, health professionals from western and southern parts of Rwanda were trained on COVID-19 and other relevant topics. These trainings have contributed a lot to equipping health professionals with knowledge that supported them in their daily work responsibilities.
The country has known many episodes of COVID-19. There were times where people were hopeless, as the number of cases and number of deaths were increasing every day and there was no hope to see the pandemic ending. There were also times when cases and deaths from COVID-19 were decreasing, which at some point could bring hope.
The hope of seeing the end of the pandemic re-emerged when the vaccine was introduced.
The hope of seeing the end of the pandemic re-emerged when the vaccine was introduced. Within a few months the first round of Rwandans were vaccinated. Rwandans were ready as many campaigns have been conducted before the vaccination process started, people were informed about categories of people that were going to be vaccinated first. In the beginning, everyone was wondering if there were going to be enough vaccines for everyone. As of now, 8.7 million Rwandans have received at least one dose and 3 millions Rwandans have been fully vaccinated (RBC, 2021).
The vaccination process continues: people from different categories are being reached and the government continues to put efforts in the prevention of COVID -19., Many Rwandans are now aware that the pandemic is real, that it is still there and very dangerous, and they understand that in order to see the pandemic defeated they must follow the measures of prevention given by qualified authorities/institutions.