We are ready to counter disease outbreaks–PM
Rwandans should not worry much as the country is always ready to counter and prevent deadly disease outbreaks, Prime Minister, Dr Pierre Damien Habumuremyi, said yesterday.
According to the premier, such outbreaks include: cholera, dysentery, bird flu, swine flu, and Ebola.
The premier noted, this yesterday afternoon, as he was briefing both chambers of Parliament on the general health sector performance.
Habumuremyi said: “Even though these diseases don’t appear on a regular basis, the country is always ready to deal with them. Most often they usually come from neighboring countries”.
The Prime Minister told the House that whenever cases occur, there are laboratories set up particularly for such operations, as well as medical staff trained and equipped to handle contingencies.
“There are even drugs to treat these diseases as well as other necessary requirements. There is also a permanent commission charged with following up such issues and sensitising and helping the population where an outbreak is spotted.”
However, the premier admitted challenges in handling non-communicable diseases (NCDs).
He observed that the World Health Organisation (WHO) 2008 data indicates that cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, cancers and chronic respiratory diseases remain the leading causes of preventable morbidity and disability.
Currently, NCDs cause over 60 per cent of global deaths, 80 per cent of which occur in developing countries.
By 2030, NCDs are estimated to contribute to 75 per cent of global deaths. The premier noted that other NCDs such as mental disorders, significantly contribute to the global disease burden.
He noted that the seven top risks of NCDs, raised blood pressure, raised cholesterol, tobacco use, alcohol consumption, overweight, social determinants of health and physical inactivity (WHO, 2002)
Noting improvements in the health sector, in general, the Prime Minister highlighted that four new district hospitals are nearing construction in Kinihira, Ntongwe, Bushenge and Kirehe districts. These, he said, will be complete by end this year.
He noted that several others are being constructed and that technical studies will start soon for other new hospitals in Muhororo, Rutare, Byumba, Gisenyi, Munini, and other places. There are also plans for upgrading five district hospitals - Kibagabaga, Rwamagana, Gihundwe, Ruhengeri, and Kabgayi.
On issues to do with improvement in service delivery, the premier highlighted the reinforcement of existing programme of rehabilitation or construction of hospitals, health centres and health posts, increasing the capacity of medical equipment maintenance across all health facilities, as well as increasing the quality and quantity of health workers and deploy them equitably across the country including upgrading A2 nurses to A1.
He also noted improvement in emergency transport, and improving the way patients express their complaints by putting in place mechanisms to handle such complaints.
However, even though lawmakers appreciated the achievements in the country’s health sector, concerns were raised on many issues including service delivery, hitches in the community health scheme (Mutuelle de santé), lack of specialist doctors, doctors’ wages, and what appears to be a chronic problem of often ‘cooked’ and misleading health statistics.
Contact email: james.karuhanga[at]newtimes.co.rw