RUBAVU- Rwanda journalists reporting on health-related matters have been trained on Ebola reporting and other health emergencies to build skills and strengthen their capacities.
The training also focused on how to mitigate the risks and journalists themselves staying safe while covering Ebola or other epidemics.
The four-day training was organized by Rwanda Ministry of Health through Rwanda Biomedical Centre with the World Health Organization support and it took place in Rubavu between November 6-9.
Rwanda and Uganda have increased surveillance at their borders with the Democratic Republic of Congo, where also instability is heightening the risk of an Ebola outbreak spreading.
The virus has so far killed more than 200 people since it was identified near Beni in east Congo in August, the highest toll since an Ebola epidemic killed more than 11,000 people in West Africa between 2014 and 2016.
Sam Kambale, a resident of Goma, in the east of Congo told iRwanda24.com some residents have been seeking inside Rwanda to escape Ebola back home.
During the training, journalists were urged to remain steadfast in being factual while reporting on such outbreaks and tell the people the truth.
“Reporting on these issues requires high professionalism and never to be carried by any rumor to scare away the population,” Lianne Gutcher, Communication officer in charge Emergencies Programme at WHO said.
WHO has said the current outbreak of the Ebola Virus Disease in the Democratic Republic of the Congo poses a high risk of introduction into neighboring countries including Rwanda. Rwanda-DRC border post is one of the busiest border points in Africa.
Countries with land borders adjoining the DRC like Rwanda have been advised by the World Health Organization to urgently strengthen their surveillance and alert systems for early detection of potential cases, and overall preparedness for timely and effective response.
As part of prevention, Rwanda has increased awareness and community engagement throughout the country using different communication channels like; television, Radio, billboards in public places such as main Roads, borders and Airports.
For now the Rwandan two border districts with the DRC currently at risk are, namely Rubavu and Gisenyi as well as the urban district of Kicukiro where an international airport is located at.
However, the country has the following existing safety locks: a robust coordination mechanism for disasters and other public health emergencies; multi-hazard public health preparedness and response plan and an updated and budgeted national EVD preparedness and response plan.