Rwanda Biomedical Center (RBC) on Thursday, June 11 launched a project aimed at equipping community health workers with digital technology and data tools to facilitate response and prevention of COVID-19.
This project, which is worth Rwf 223 million, is co-funded by the French Agency for Research on AIDS and viral hepatitis (ANRS) and by the French Embassy.
Two other French research institutes namely Institut Pasteur and INSERM will take part in the project implementation and evaluation.
RBC said the project will promote wider and faster detection of cases, help in contact tracing, support social reintegration of recoveries and ensure a link between the population and the health system in Rwanda.
The project is an outcome of a collaboration between the Medical Research Unit from RBC and the Nancy Center for Clinical Investigation based in France, according to the French Embassy.
The project will be piloted in four districts across the country: two in Kigali, as well as the districts of Gicumbi and Nyamasheke. It will see 400 community health workers equipped with a smartphone application that enables larger and quicker detection of cases, especially in rural areas.
Over three months, the mobile app is expected to strengthen the surveillance of pandemic and patient care. After assessment from the Health Ministry, the technology will be rolled out across the country.
Rwanda’s use of digital technology in the health system has been on the rise since the virus broke out. This project adds to the use of robots, drones, data modules among other new technologies currently used in the national strategy against Covid-19.
The project designers said it will rely on the network of the community-based health practitioners whose role in primary health care is remarkable. Also, with their Ebola experience, they are identified as health heroes who can play an undisputed role in the control and prevention of the pandemic.
Jeremie Blin, the Chargé d’ Affaires of France to Rwanda said in a statement the project will strengthen cooperation between both countries, especially in the health field as the entire world grapples with unprecedented effects of the virus.
The Health sector, he added, is one of the bilateral priorities of the French Embassy in Rwanda, in regard with this year’s signing of a memorandum of understanding between the French Institute of Health and Medical Research (INSERM) and the Rwandan Ministry of Health.