Preserving our dignity and achievements

“Political will must be present if any government wants to make a difference in its citizens’ lives”

My 92-year old grandmother has been hospitalized and was on oxygen for the last three months, due to chest infection. Recently, when we asked for her hospital bills at the University Teaching Hospital of Kigali (CHUK), I was shocked to realize that we had to pay only Rwf920,000.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s a lot of money by all standards but if compared to the time she had spent at the hospital and the medical attention she was receiving, I expected a bigger amount, one that could literally put gaping holes into our pockets.

But thank the Rwandan Government for its home grown solution of the community based medical insurance scheme known as Mutuelle de Sante, we paid only 10 per cent meaning the other 90% of Rwf9.2m was paid by government.

This means that political will must be present if any government wants to make a difference in its citizens’ lives. I am not just here to laud the citizen-centered leadership that has our president at the helm but to emphasize the need to preserve our dignity and achievements.

But how do we preserve?

If I could borrow this year’s commemoration theme, “Remember the Genocide against the Tutsi - Fight Genocide Ideology - Build on Our Progress,” it underlines that the country has made some progress and there is need to build on it, not destroy it.

Preserving our dignity and achievements has been a call from almost all officials and the citizens have not disappointed.

Citizens have relentlessly participated in the monthly communal activities known as Umuganda to ensure cleanliness and good hygiene of our city; citizens have endured to make their annual contributions to Mutuelle de Sante, citizens have religiously paid taxes to ensure that the economic objectives of the country are realized, citizens have in some way contributed to the peace and security of the country.

But this doesn’t call for complacency but thinking big and joining efforts to achieve more.

Taking you back to the story of my grandmother, I have some recommendations on how we can preserve what has been achieved especially in regards to Mutuelle de Sante.

There is need for a comprehensive coverage that doesn’t inconvenience Mutuelle beneficiaries.

At CHUK, we were prescribed some medications that were not available at the hospital pharmacy. But since most pharmacies do not offer services on Mutuelle cover, we had to pay the entire amount.

But what happens to someone who can’t afford the expensive medication for their patient? I believe there can be a way to ease access to drugs for all by introducing the comprehensive coverage, which gives the peace of mind that all of yours and your families’ medical costs will be covered.

Medical experts often urge the masses to do regular medical check-ups, but unless they are any free, heavily populated medical campaigns, not all citizens can do the regular check-ups because their medical insurance plans do not give them the luxury to do so.

Every Rwandan should contribute to Mutuelle, irrespective of their category or if they are attached to any private medical insurance cover. We all belong to a community, whether we are of a high status or not, we have our roots.

Contributing to Mutuelle gives an alternative to the subscriber if they lost their job in an instance or if their income levels drifted downwards without warning.

A general contribution to Mutuelle means that the government can ensure a comprehensive coverage for the citizens since there are many people on the scheme.

Numbers never lie, the more people contribute to a cause, the more money will be in the fund and thus increasing benefits for its subscribers.

It’s important to note that the Central University Teaching Hospital of Kigali receives a lot of people who are under this scheme across the country hence staff and resources are outnumbered by the needs of these hospitals, there is need to support such hospitals both through bigger budget support but also direct donations from private citizens for better of our people and society.

I was able to note this challenge.

Before I ask what my government has done for me, I will first see what I can do for my government.

This goes to all citizens from the middle class to always think about the vulnerable people who come seeking medical attention and end up spending a lot of days in the hospital.

It would be great for the well-wishers to always find a way of supporting such citizens.

The writer is the Country Director of Never Again Rwanda. He can be reached via Joseph@neveragainrwanda.org

Twitter: @ryarasa