Ebola preparedness in Rumonge, Burundi

Story from the field

By Zineb Boujrada
Several people on a boat at shore
UNICEF Burundi/2019/Boujrada
01 February 2019

Hundreds of people from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) continue to cross into Burundi. Many Congolese travel daily to Burundi for trade and other socio-economic reasons.

According to the ‘’Chef of the Port’’, between 100 and 250 cross on market days through the port of Rumonge. With support of UNICEF Burundi and partners, health technicians are mobilized at entry points to screen people upon arrival.

 

People standing in line on the shore
UNICEF Burundi/2019/Boujrada

People travelling from the Democratic Republic of Congo stand in line upon arrival for handwashing with chlorine solution at the Ebola screening point at the border town of Rumonge. UNICEF and other partners are supporting this critical point of entry with WASH facilities and isolation equipment.

 

A woman walks down the steps of a building
UNICEF Burundi/2019/Boujrada

On the Port of Rumonge, there is one major ‘’Poste de Surveillances Medical’’, staffed with two health technicians and equipped with WASH facilities. This is the only response centre that screens incoming travelers from DRC. Here, the health technician is getting prepared to set up the hand washing device.

 

A tent with a building in the background
UNICEF Burundi/2019/Boujrada

The Rumonge medical screening post ,has prepared an Ebola Treatment Unit to isolate any suspected cases with the help of the Red Cross and World Food Program. The health facility is located about 300 meters from the landing point on the shores of Lake Tanganyika where hundreds of people from the DRC cross into Burundi especially on market days.

 

A woman in a white lab coat prepares a large orange bucket as a handwashing device
UNICEF Burundi/2019/Boujrada

Meters away from the isolation tents, health technicians set up the hand washing device. Health technicians are in direct contact with more than 250 arrivals every day. Rumonge port is a critical entry point and heath workers need additional protective equipment for their daily work. Here, the heath worker adds chlorine to disinfect hand-washing water for the incoming travelers.

 

A man washes his hands
UNICEF Burundi/2019/Boujrada

Incoming travelers from DRC stand in the line to thoroughly wash their hands with chlorinated water before having their temperature taken as a precautionary measure.

 

Two men walking away from camera
UNICEF Burundi/2019/Boujrada

Then, they continue their way to the center via a corridor for a temperature reading.

 

A health professional wearing a gown, a mask, disposable gloves and eye protection
UNICEF Burundi/2019/Boujrada

Healthcare workers in charge of screening temperatures are at the highest risk of getting sick because they may come into contact with the blood or body fluids of a sick person. Here, one of the center’s health professionals is wearing a gown, a mask, disposable gloves and eye protection. However, additional protective equipment is being provided to ensure total safety.

 

The temperature of a baby is taken through the window of a building
UNICEF Burundi/2019/Boujrada

A Burundian health technicien measures the temperature of a newly arrived mother and baby from the DRC with an infrared thermometer, at Rumonge port on the shores of Lake Tanganyika. All arrivals from the Democratic Republic of Congo are screened for the Ebola Virus Disease.

 

People milling about the shore of the lake
UNICEF Burundi/2019/Boujrada

A health worker registers all incoming travelers after a negative test and explains the risks associated with Ebola and how to protect yourself from contamination.

 

Shore of the lake
UNICEF Burundi/2019/Boujrada

As part of the preparation of Burundi for the management of public health emergencies, and in particular for the Ebola epidemic, Rumonge is among the 10 priority health districts at highest risk (Cibitoke, Mpanda, Bujumbura North, Bujumbura Center, Bujumbura South, Kabezi, Isale, Bugarama and Nyanza Lac). They all share a border with the DRC. These health districts are located in the Imbo Plain and along the Tanganyika Lake. The movement of goods and people between these parts of Burundi and the DRC's South Kivu region is regular and vital to the local economy.

Thanks to the support of several donors who had stepped forward to protect children in this emergency, UNICEF is able to work with partners to ensure that protective, preventative and contingency measures are in place.

For every child, health.