RWANDA: RISING COVID-19 PREVALENCE: THE PRICE OF THE REGIME LAXITY!

By Erasme Rugemintwaza

Rwanda has been under the whip of an alarming rise in the prevalence of covid-19 since June 17. What is happening in the land of a Thousand Hills, which prided itself on containing the pandemic well?

From March 2020 to June 2021, it has already been a year and 3 months, a dark period when Rwanda like the whole world is continuously living the daily nightmare of the damage of the coronavirus pandemic, “An evil that spreads terror”, and perhaps to be “Evil that the sky in its fury, invented to punish the crimes of the earth”, as Jean de La Fontaine says in his fable La Peste! A year and 3 months of man’s helplessness in the face of the evil that can easily engulf the deadly people, yet well warned by other pandemics such as the flu at the end of the 19th century, SARS and Ebola in the present day. And nothing proves, in the current war that man is waging against the coronavirus, that he is united and thus will be able to face a possible invasion of artificial intelligence, his own madness. And every day, inexorably, man digs his own grave! Consequences of coronavirus, both economic and world-wide recession never recorded, the impoverishment of the poor, hunger, unemployment, the crisis of the family institution, because “The turtledoves fled from each other: no longer love; no longer joy. Despite this brutal and abrupt change in society, we start to get used to wearing a mask, washing our hands as many times as possible, not kissing anymore! While nourishing a hope that tomorrow or the day after tomorrow, its turn to be inoculated, awaited with little patience will arrive! All this could give hope that one day we will once again have a fair! Far from it because the week of June 17-23, 2021 shook these illusions; the scale of the pandemic has become staggering and makes everyone tremble. What made the prevalence so alarmingly high?

The current disaster is undoubtedly the most glaring manifestation of the neglect of health policy in the country and of the executive structure in general.

The pernicious laxity of the executive

This neglect is that of the main actors of local governance responsible for education and supervision of the population. Thus the basic administrative authorities, such as mayors, executive secretaries of sectors and cells are among those responsible for this situation. In the first days of the pandemic, strict compliance with Covid-19 prevention measures was required. The teams of people under the supervision of these base authorities worked in harmony. But, since March 2021 we have observed a carelessness. Mayors in extension of their mandate, especially those who leave the office and are not allowed to run for a new term , no longer work, they refine their own projects. They no longer have time to run mountains and valleys on awareness raising hikes, because their mandate has just come to an end. Better are the interim civil servants discharging  functions of   the Executive Committees of the Districts, than these mayors, some of whom are also afraid of going to live with the population they have mistreated! there was also this mutual surveillance of neighboring households. What made the small bars open without denunciation? Why has the wearing of a mask become a practice of “others” and not “ours” in villages and neighborhoods. We know that currently, the Rwandan population is still experiencing hygiene problems, households without adequate toilets are very numerous, 38% of children are malnourished. How then can we believe that such a population whose illiteracy remains high will be able to adopt preventive measures against the coronavirus without supervision by the authority?

The Minister of Health Dr, Daniel Ngamije is indignant: “In recent days, the positive cases of Covid-19 and those of hospitalized patients have increased, among the causes causing this alarming increase, it is that there has been a certain neglect of preventive measures ”. The Minister then urged the entire population to respect the preventive measures, because to bend down the exponential curve that the pandemic has taken in recent days, it is necessary to control the ways of its contamination and its spread. In fact, the coronavirus is spread through the air. Lately public places like markets, hairdressing saloons, shops are functioning at 100%, as nothing had occurred : the wearing of the mask had sadly fallen into oblivion. And these grassroots entities charged with awareness, mobilization or even better surveillance, knew it, noticed it but did nothing except receiving bribes to turn a blind eye! Minister Daniel Ngamije implores: “We must take draconian measures harder than before and put them into practice. It has to be done before the situation gets worse than it is today, as it has been seen in some countries. ” He continued: “Scientific research has just concluded that the virus spreads in the air and more easily in cramped and poorly ventilated places. And when there is someone who is sick, he contaminates the others by simple breathing, when he speaks or when he coughs […] Let’s get into the habit of working outside buildings, in the open air where it is possible, let’s open the windows to ventilate our workplaces, especially the classes and services that receive a lot of people such as health services, banks, administrative offices, public transport buses during trips ”. To do this, the services specially responsible for ensuring that Covid-19 prevention measures are observed, ask the reception services of buildings that receive a lot of people, to remind everyone to adjust the mask, to wash their clothes, hands and keep them from piling up finally to avoid any jostling.

The minister finally said that “Everyone’s role in curbing the spread of covid-19 will certainly counteract the increase in contamination. All together, without any carelessness, let’s have a role in protecting ourselves and others. Thus we will have a secure country, without covid-19 ”.

The regrettable lack of health policy¨

If one well observes, there is a very remarkable neglect in the health policy of Rwanda. The people are abandoned to themselves. In fact, the lack of enthusiasm in vaccination shows that vaccination had started with other motives: it was to serve the mercantile spirit of the Kagame regime. In fact the vaccination of the so-called high-risk categories began on March 5, 2021. Worse is to note that three months later, only 391,048 people received two doses of AstraZeneca and Pfizer vaccines. Why then this lack of enthusiasm? In fact, the enthusiasm for the vaccination departure last March was due to the preparation of the meeting of Heads of State and Commonwealth of Governments (CHOGM), a meeting that Paul Kagame wishes very much because it remains the only way to give him a little air to breathe after a lot of crimes weighting  on his head and the looming isolation. Kagame is seen everywhere, and with good reason, as Africa’s worst criminal, because at the slightest dissonant whisper, the verdict sentencing him death penalty or to life jail will fall! For Kagame, CHOGM is a blow of censer! But the meeting is also, for Kagame, an opportunity to make big commercial profits because his hotels in bad shape due to the coronavirus, the ultra-luxury vehicles of his son Cyomoro, the ultra modern buses of his butler Dodo have a monopoly of the market in relationship with the CHOGM.

After the second suspension of this meeting, the enthusiasm is at half mast, the citizens are in their usual abnormal situation of total abandonment! And if it is not abandonment, how can be explained the surges in vaccination if we analyze the billions of money granted to the government of Kigali to support health, since the declaration of the coronavirus? If we take the freshly recent example, France granted aid of 100 million euros to Rwanda in the program to fight COVID-19 in 2020. If we make a statistical speculation, the 100 million euros can buy 16 million AstraZeneca vaccines, considering that an AstaZeneca vaccine costs only 6 euros; or better the 100 million euros may be enough to vaccinate 5 million people if we consider that the cost of immunizing a person is estimated at 20 euros for two doses. We would then wonder where these millions of euros could have spent if we know that Rwanda has, until June 23, 2021, vaccinated only 391,038 people! In the same vein, we would wonder whether Rwanda will really achieve its vaccination objectives: 30% of its population, that is to say 3.6 million by the end of the year 2021 or 60% i.e. 7.2 million in 2022. With the escalation of the prevalence, 4085 in the week of June 17 to 23, 2021, and a total of 6,129 including 12 serious cases, the health services will be overwhelmed. Let us recall here that Rwanda has only two Covid-19 treatment centers, the Nyarugenge District Hospital (in Nyamirambo), and the Kanyinya Health Center at the exit of the city of Kigali towards the North, in the old area called Shyorongi. Too few centers to cope with this increase which shows signs of being worse in the days to come! What is missing to provide at least every province with a Covid-19 treatment pavilion?

A pernicious carelessness, in which the coronavirus surprised the world and risks leaving them if it deigns to spare us!

So here is once again the country on the verge of confinement with all the consequences it brings! The impoverishment of the poor, the hunger which worsens the eternally precarious situation which prevails, because more than 3.7 million Rwandans hardly eat once a day, the destruction of the family institution, unemployment, the loss of sense of life or disgust  with life, in a nutshell the Absurd. A life or death situation where the people are abandoned to themselves. And the poet Baudelaire comes here to give the solution to this absurdity of life: to go “Anywhere out of the world”! Because the world is no longer the best place to live, Man is abandoned to himself. Or it is the self-proclaimed death of the state!

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