Health ministry looks to strengthen ties with foreign medical experts


IN the QUEST to boost quality health service delivery, the Ministry of Health is keen to strengthen its partnership with international medical experts to ensure they share their skills with local medics, officials have said.

This was announced last Friday as European medics who were in the country for a one-week medical exercise concluded their outreach.

The medics operated over 230 patients with hernia and Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) diseases.

The operation was organised by the Rwanda Legacy of Hope, a Non-Governmental Organisation founded by a Rwandan living in the UK.

The ministry has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the organisation to offer free surgery services to needy patients.

The partnership started in 2012, and since then over 1300 people have been operated on.

Speaking at the closing event, Dr Theophile Dushime, the director general for Clinical Services at the Ministry of Health, said with very few surgeons in the country, such a number would not have been operated on.

Rwanda has just 50 specialised surgeons and this means there is one doctor per 240,000 patients in the country, according to Dushime.

“Whenever such medics come to help, they operate on patients who would rather have waited longer to be operated on given the small number of local surgeons,” he said.

“It is a huge contribution not only in terms of treating our patients but also equipping our young medics with skills, it is a strong partnership that we want to maintain as we seek more partnerships to improve health service delivery among Rwandans,” he added.

He said the partnership will keep growing and the ministry will always welcome medical experts ready to share their skills.

“We still have areas where we have no experts at all such as brain diseases, we only have two neurologists and what we wish is to strengthen partnerships with more medical experts so that our medics can learn from them and be able to treat more Rwandans,” he added.

Medics upbeat

This time around over 30 medics from Europe, mainly from Germany and the UK, came for the exercise.

Dr Chris Oppong, the Rwanda Legacy of Hope chairperson, said it was exciting to work with local, young medics.

He hopes that after the exercise, local medics would be able to carry out similar operations on their own.

“It was very successful and local medics acquired knowledge and skills. I think we have helped them become better surgeons,” he said.

At least 14 medical students undergoing post graduate surgery studies were trained over the past week, according to officials.

“The operations are not easy and demanded a lot of experience, understanding and enthusiasm, the way forward is to develop a system that will see trainees will become trainers. Besides, we will keep coming with experts to treat complex cases, and train the local surgeons,” Oppong noted.

Dr Jackson Nshimiye, one of the trainees, said: “This training is very critical as we have been able to acquire both theoretical and practical skills on operating hernia and ENT diseases. We have worked with the visiting medics and can now carry out operations on patients on our own.”

The team works with several hospitals such as Rwamagana, Remera Rukoma, Gahini, Kirinda, Nyamata, Kigeme, Kibogora and Central Teaching University Hospital of Kigali (CHUK).

Every time the experts come they carry with them variety of equipment which they leave in the country for future usage.

Last year, they came with equipment, worth Rwf70 million, while this year they came with equipment worth Rwf80 million.