August 16, 2021

Misinformation and Delayed Information Undermining COVID-19 Home-based Care Program


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A policewoman gets her jab at vaccination site in Kigali

It is over a year since the COVID-19 virus emerged in Rwanda. Many have contracted the virus and deaths have increased over time. In a bid to face the challenge, the government allowed home-based care for the patients who are not in critical condition, to be monitored by community health workers.

Some of the patients under home care have often expressed concern that misinformation exposes them to longer battle with Coronavirus or spreading the virus to others.

Mukarurema from Kadobogo Village, Kagugu Cell, Gisozi Sector is one of those how say that due to misinformation she did not realize that she had contracted the virus and continued interacting with others spreading it to the neighbor.

Speaking to The Chronicles, she said that the community health worker told me that it was difficult for one vaccinated to contract the virus and in case of contraction, the vaccinated do not suffer much nor spread it to others.”

Mukarurema explained: I was terrified to hear the health minister over the radio explaining that there were vaccinated people who contracted from Coronavirus and others died due to COVID-19, warning the vaccinated to remain as vigilant as the unvaccinated. Otherwise I believed otherwise”.

In Kicukiro District, Gahanga Sector, Mpinga told The Chronicles that he had spent days feeling unwell, suspecting it was malaria. When he went to the health centre, he was found negative of malaria and given him medication but continued manifesting signs of malaria until she took a COVID-19 test and found positive.

I was advised to return home and take care of myself in a quarantine to avoid spreading it to my family. But its not easy among children who want to play if no one is ready to stop a child from playing with a patient, Mpinga said.

Mpinga added that it is not easy to be cautious of the sick or the caretaker at home. Sometimes one recovers while another gets affected or the one who was sick first contracts the virus again. His pregnant wife later contracted the virus but the child never contracted it.

Pertaining to taking care of children, Dr Tharcisse Mpunga, the State Minister at the Ministry of Health said that though children have some resistance to COVID-19, precautions should be taken because they transmit the virus to the elderly even when they may not show signs.

In Nyarugenge District, Gitega Sector, Akabahizi Cell, Nzabamwita had a Coronavirus patient unaware until the patient was in critical conditions and ended up on oxygen, dying three days later. He said that its important to get another person to take care of children to avoid getting into contact with one suffering from Coronavirus.

Nzabamwita said that the reason his patient became critically ill and failed to make it that at the hospital was because the information they got on Delta was unclear about the signs of the variant, and to take the sick to the hospital soon.

It is not the government that has played a major role to counter Covid-19 but also some national and international organizations. The United Nations Childrens Fund, UNICEF has also facilitated the procurement of 340,000 COVID1-9 vaccines through the COVAX facility. The agency has also supported the training of health workers and other government officials involved in the distribution and vaccination process.

Since children are vulnerable in worrying circumstances such as this Covid pandemic one, UNICEF has had interventions.
“Children are no longer the hidden victims of COVID-19. Although there is no evidence so far that suggests that young children have been fatally affected by the virus, measures to control the virus have had a significant impact on children’s wellbeing over the past 18 months, Rajat Madhok, Chief of communications and outreach at UNICEF Rwanda told The Chronicles.

He added: With the support of UNICEF and other partners, the Ministry of Education quickly developed and implemented an education plan to deal with disruptions caused by COVID-19, which included developing and disseminating remote learning lessons through radio, TV, and online learning with UNICEF support. It is estimated that approximately 2.5 million learners accessed such remote learning while schools were locked down though not all children had access to these remote lessons.”

Home care for Covid-19 patients has encountered some challenges, but in general it helped a lot in reducing the number of people that could have lost their lives if all of them were to be treated at the district hospitals.

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