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14 Nov, 2023 09:36

Russia backing Burkina Faso’s fight against deadly disease

More than 200 people in the former French colony have been killed by dengue fever so far this year
Russia backing Burkina Faso’s fight against deadly disease

A team of virologists and military personnel from the Russian Nuclear, Chemical, and Biological Protection Troops are in Burkina Faso to offer assistance to the African nation in handling disease outbreaks.

The specialists visited the National Reference Laboratory for Viral Hemorrhagic Fever (LNR-FHV) at the Muraz Center in Bobo-Dioulasso, the second largest city in Burkina Faso, on Sunday, where they deployed a mobile laboratory to conduct dengue fever screening, according to local media.

There is a mixed team, Russian and Burkinabe, currently working in the laboratory. At the end of this work, there are reagent kits that our Russian friends will make available to the LNR-FHV to strengthen its capacities as part of the fight against dengue fever,” Burkina Faso Health Minister Robert Kargougou was quoted by Burkina24 news agency as saying.

The move by Moscow comes after the west African country’s military government announced last month that more than 200 people had been killed in an epidemic of dengue fever, a mosquito-borne disease, since January, primarily in the capital Ouagadougou and in Bobo-Dioulasso.

According to the authorities, a total of 50,478 suspected cases of dengue were reported, including 25,502 probable cases and 214 deaths between the beginning of the year and October 15.

Moscow's relations with Ouagadougou have stirred dissatisfaction in France and some of its Western allies, who claim the Kremlin is pursuing a predatory agenda in Africa amid a wave of anti-French sentiment.

Last week, Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu held talks with his Burkina Faso counterpart, Kassoum Coulibaly, seeking to bolster bilateral military ties. The African country's rulers had maintained such a relationship with Paris until January, when it became the second West African country after Mali to sever defense ties established to fight a decade-long jihadist insurgency in the Sahel region.

In October, Burkina Faso's energy minister, Simon-Pierre Boussim, visited Moscow and signed an agreement that will allow Russia to build a nuclear power plant in the Sahel nation to boost access to electricity.

Burkina Faso is also one of six African countries set to receive humanitarian shipments of tons of Russian wheat, which are said to have left for the continent last week.