The Latest

THE LATEST

THE LATEST THINKING

THE LATEST THINKING

The opinions of THE LATEST’s guest contributors are their own.

COVID-19 Faced With Tradition and Technology

Coen Van Wyk

Posted on July 24, 2020 18:32

2 users

As the pandemic takes hold in Africa, Governments look to different methods of combating the disease. While traditional and herbal medicines are investigated, modern technology is also employed. Rwanda has remarkable successes to share.

Africa faces the coronavirus with varying levels of preparedness. Some countries put their faith on God to chase the virus out of their countries while others trust modern science. The World Health Organization and the African Center for Disease Control, are coordinating clinical trials on traditional medicines in the treatment of COVID-19. “Rigorous clinical testing to evaluate safety and efficacy will be critical, similar to other areas of medicine,” said Dr John Nkengasong, Director of Africa CDC and WHO Special Envoy on COVID-19.

Ancient traditions, modern science. Photo WHO. www.afro.who.int

At the time of writing African countries have recorded close on 800 000 cases, 17 000 deaths, and 450,000 recoveries. African health personnel have recent experience with epidemics such as Ebola, but more than 10,000 health workers have been infected. The WHO warned that adequate protection equipment should be a priority.

One example of quick and effective response comes from the center of Africa: Rwanda was one of the first to implement a stringent lockdown, limiting movement, calling on people to adopt safe practices. Testing stations on main roads and public handwashing stations with health personnel in attendance were set up. Police, where necessary, enforced lockdown measures. Rwanda has had only 1,710 cases and five deaths in its 13 million population, and is one of the few countries that has quarantine-free entry into the European Union.

Roadside controls. Photo WHO. www.afro.who.int

Apart from leveraging the existing HIV detecting infrastructure, the Rwandan Ministry of Health was quick to ramp up laboratory facilities and finding innovative technology to combat the spread of the disease. Pooled testing was employed to identify affected communities. With the help of the Ministry of Informatics and Computer Technology and the UNDP several Anti-Epidemic robots, named Akazuba, Ikizere, Mwiza, Ngabo and Urumuri, were developed. These can each screen up to 150 people per minute and report temperature abnormalities. They can also deliver food and medication to patients, thereby reducing exposure of health workers.

Meet the patients. Photo Rwanda Ministry of Health. www.moh.gov.rw

The Rwandan Government also deployed drones that had been developed with the help of a Californian company, Zipline, to monitor compliance to COVID 9 preventive measures, and to broadcast information and warning messages. The drones, developed to deliver blood and medicines for chronic patients in inaccessible areas, are also used to spray sensitive areas against larvae of disease-carrying mosquitoes.

Drone for surveillance and communication. Photo WHO. www.afro.who.int

Critics point to the harsh rules of a government that does not easily tolerate opposition and dissent. Yet the level of public compliance with disease-control measures is characteristic of a nation where everyone, from housewives to Government Ministers, spend one day a month at community work, cleaning the streets and manicuring parks and public gardens.

Despite its tragic history of genocide and poverty this small country, by embracing modern technology and through social cohesiveness, is pro-active in the fight against the pandemic.

Coen Van Wyk

Posted on July 24, 2020 18:32

Comments

comments powered by Disqus
Source: CS Monitor

South Africa’s original lockdown against COVID-19 was one of the world’s toughest. Here’s the story of Day 99, told through...

THE LATEST THINKING

Video Site Tour

The Latest
The Latest

Subscribe to THE LATEST Newsletter.

The Latest
The Latest

Share this TLT through...

The Latest