Trust: key link to building sustainable systems – Kagame

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President Kagame, Microsoft founder Bill Gates and Erna Solberg, Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Norway speak on a panel discussion at the "Health Security: Small bugs, Big Bombs" conference in Munich, Germany yesterday. (Village Urugwiro)

Efficient use of resources and trust between government institutions and citizens should be nurtured in order to build sustainable health systems, President Paul Kagame has said.

The Head of State made the call yesterday while speaking on a panel about health security at the ongoing 53rd edition of Munich Security Conference in Germany, which brought together about 500 global leaders to discuss international security.

Kagame said that partnership and the efficient use of resources to solve health problems are needed if countries are to build great health security systems.

“Resources are very critical but it is not about throwing money at a problem. It is about understanding how to deploy resources and whether they are going to be used effectively to give us the results we want so we don’t keep repeating the same mistakes.”

“If we don’t build systems that will last and keep helping in dealing with likely future problems then we are not doing much. We throw a lot of money at putting out fires but we are not putting systems that will outlast any particular problem. Sometimes the efforts circumvent systems in place instead of strengthening them so that they serve future purposes. This is an area where there is a weakness. We need to work on fixing this,” Kagame added.

The president appeared on the health panel discussion alongside Bill Gates, Co-Chair of Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Erna Solberg, Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Norway and Peter Salama, Executive Director of Health Emergencies Programme at World Health Organisation.

Stefan Oschmann, the Chief Executive Officer of Merck, a Germany-based technology company working in the areas of healthcare and life science, was also on the panel which was moderated by David Miliband, former Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs in the United Kingdom and current President and Chief Executive Officer of International Rescue Committee.

Kagame pointed to trust as a key factor in building and sustaining progress.

“Absence of security originates from the state of mind of people. Once people in society have their full place, they will always make good contribution. Trust is important as a link between institutions, leaders and citizens,” he said as he shared Rwanda’s story of citizen participation in the gains achieved in health.

Rwanda has made great strides in uplifting its healthcare services through initiatives such as the universal community-based health insurance scheme known as Mutuelle de Santé, fighting malaria, and significantly improving maternal health and child healthcare.

It also uses thousands of volunteer health workers who are crucial for early reporting of diseases and providing basic medical first aid to patients at the grassroots level in their communities.

The approach has led to drastic a 75% decline maternal mortality and over 80% decline child mortality in the last fifteen years.

The country was lauded by several experts speaking at the Munich Security Conference for being exemplary in building strong health systems by leveraging partnerships with other stakeholders and using its own citizens to solve health problems.

“Rwanda is an incredibly great example,” Gates said while emphasising the need to efficiently use any available resources to address health challenges.

The Executive Director of Health Emergencies Programme at World Health Organisation said that countries need to build strong control systems and constantly document and report about any threats of diseases before they become major outbreaks.

“Surveillance, timely reports, and Research and Development are needed in order to stay on the top of diseases,” Salama said.

For more than fifty years, the Munich Security Conference (MSC) has become a major global forum for prominent world leaders to discuss security policy.

It brings together decision-makers from around the world including; Heads of State, Ministers, representatives of international organisations, as well as media and academic personalities to engage in an intensive debate on current and future security challenges.

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