KIGALI - President Paul Kagame yesterday said that brain drain is a major challenge that needs to be addressed by governments and institutions on the African continent.
The President said this at the opening of the College of Surgeons of East, Central, & Southern Africa’s (COSECSA) annual general meeting at Kigali Serena Hotel, where he was also conferred with an honorary fellowship by the college.
Kagame underscored that the small number of surgeons in the region should serve as a reminder to encourage medical professionals to enter more challenging fields.
Addressing an audience that comprised of medical professionals from East, Central & Southern Africa, Kagame identified brain drain as one challenge that is costing Africa development as a significant number of Africa’s health professionals were migrating to the developed world.
“I think it’s very well known that retention is therefore associated with the remuneration and things like that, and I think there is a lot we can do and must do,” the President said.
“As governments and as institutions, private sector, we can work together to improve the situation,” Kagame said drawing thunderous applause from the medical professionals.
The President, who also presided over the graduation of nine graduands in surgery, noted that investment in quality surgical practice and care will inevitably improve patient care, thereby decreasing referrals to other countries.
He added that this will reduce economic drain and increase the confidence of investors in the health system, adding that it will also render the region more investment friendly.
“Governments in the region have a role to play. We must pool our resources and create centres of excellence, both in terms of training and health provision,” the President added.
The College also requested that Kagame be its first ever Patron, a role the President gladly accepted.
In his speech, the Health Minister Dr Richard Sezibera said that although the majority of major surgical operations are successful, at least seven million result in complications leading to about one million deaths per year.
“A focus on the surgical discipline is therefore a major public policy goal,” he said.
Dr George Ntakiyiruta, the only Rwandan graduate at the event, promised that he would use the knowledge attained to train more Rwandan medical professionals.
The COSECSA President Abedinego Kinasha said the college decided to offer an honorary fellowship to President Kagame for his exemplary leadership in Rwanda and the entire region.
COSECSA’s nine constituent member countries include; Rwanda, Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Zambia, Malawi, Mozambique and Zimbabwe.
It was formed out of the Association of Surgeons of Eastern Africa (ASEA), a body that has been in existence since 1950.