Rubavu border community has been urged to remain cautious as the Polio virus is still circulating in the region, and neighbouring countries, putting the country at high risk, the World Health Organization announced.
The call was made during the celebration of World Polio Day in Rwanda on Friday, October 27, in Rubavu District under the theme, ‘Eradicating Polio Is My Responsibility’.
According to the Ministry of Health through Rwanda Biomedical Centre (RBC), Rubavu was chosen as the host district for the event due to “its critical proximity to DR Congo” as “a country currently facing a Polio outbreak.”
The event is also a part of the ongoing awareness campaign among Rwandans, mainly border communities near DR Congo and Burundi where, according to WHO, Polio cases are still present.
Edson Rwagasore, Division Manager for Public Health Surveillance and Emergency Preparedness and Response at RBC, assured that over 97 per cent of children across the country are vaccinated as part of eradicating the virus.
Since 1993, Rwanda has not recorded any Polio cases.
“According to our recent samples, there is no Polio virus in the country, but WHO recently announced that some of our neighbouring countries still register Polio cases,” Rwagasore noted.
Meanwhile, Dr Theopista Kabuteni, Health Policy Advisor and Team Lead Universal Health Coverage for the World Health Organization (WHO) in Rwanda said that the virus is still circulating in the region, putting Rwanda at stake.
“Rwanda has interrupted the circulation of the Polio virus since 1993; however the virus is still circulating in the region and in neighbouring countries, putting Rwanda at high risk of Poliovirus reintroduction,” she said.
Rubavu residents who were at the World Polio Day event, including Emelence Mukundente, observed awareness as useful as hundreds of people cross over to Goma daily.
“It’s a very important event as we learn more on Polio prevention within our community, that our babies should be vaccinated,” she said.
According to WHO, DR Congo accounts for almost half the total number of Polio cases circulating in the region, with 407 cases reported between January 2022 and May 2023.