It’s almost going to be three months since COVID-19 is declared by the world health organization (WHO) as a global pandemic. Since that time, different governments together with WHO took different measures to prevent the spread of this disease within their nations. As a result, there was a restriction of movement locally and internationally, closure of daily activities and public gatherings, etc. The Medical students’ Association of Rwanda(MEDSAR) found it necessary to play its role in fighting COVID-19 and its consequences. On 23rd May MEDSAR was invited on ISANGO STAR TV in Healthy life show hosted by Umurungi Hilson to explain its role in fighting COVID-19.
The discussions in first place, was about MEDSAR Executive Board came up with the initiative of creating a taskforce that is specific to COVID-19 due to mainly two reason which are to fill the gap of insufficient trusted information about COVID-19 and to deal with effects of COVID-19 on Sexual and Reproductive Health, Mental Health, and more. This taskforce is composed of four department namely Public health, sexual and reproductive health (SRH) and rights, research and medical education, and Mental health and human rights. Every department has developed a specific plan of activities that it has to accomplish, some of the activities have been already implemented whereas others are still in process.
At the begin of this pandemic, we carried out campaigns on social media to explain to Rwandans more about COVID-19 (what it is, how it is transmitted, its signs and symptoms, how to prevent it as well as how to receive medical support in case you get affected), we did survey filled by more than 1500 people, the purpose was to access the knowledge the population have on this disease so that we may fill where we found a gap. We did campaign to advocate for access of SRH services, next was a campaign to raise awareness on mental health issues in COVID-19 more particularly we based on depression. We did a Capacity building on the effects of COVID-19 on SRH via webinar meeting with presenter from UNFPA Rwanda, HDI and our partner from Kenya. All these activities were done mainly by spreading message on different social media namely Twitter, Instagram, WhatsApp, Radio talk and TV talk.
Moreover, this invitation on ISANGO STAR TV in Healthy life show to shade more light on its role in fighting COVID-19 and not only medical students but what other students could be doing before they resume schools. Within this show MEDSAR President Serge NDAGIJIMANA, Blaise MUHOZA MUGENEKA chair of taskforce and Steven SETONDE MBANZA head of public health department in the taskforce explained and mentioned activities that have been done and some others in process emphasizing on the point of advising Rwandans the importance of understanding prevention measures of COVID-19 that have been established by our government such as hands washing, wearing masks, social distancing, not touching surfaces anyhow and avoiding hand shaking. Speakers focused on the fact that understanding the importance of these measures is key to follow them and as a result there will be no more spread of this virus locally. In addition, speakers explained how to prevent the effects of COVID-19 on SRH and Mental health.
Despite the above mentioned activities, MEDSAR through this taskforce will keep working to stop the spread of this disease and to reduce the its effects on SRH, mental health, Research, and Medical education. We call upon everyone to consider prevention of COVID-19 as their personal responsibility.
We thank you dear members for you continues support, stay safe.