Rwanda’s steady journey towards better healthcare

Four hospitals around the country have been upgraded at a cost of more than USD 1 million. The Health sector in Rwanda is one of the exemplary ones in East Africa and the Region. Growing at a faster rate than any other health sector, issues revolving around health have become a priority in the government of Rwanda. The persistent and increased global and national responsibility, political will, financial commitment and public-private partnership has made this journey possible. However, challenges still manifest themselves in the struggle to provide better healthcare for the Rwandan population, especially those living in rural areas.
Hospital expansion will solve the problem of crowded wards in rural areas.
Hospital expansion will solve the problem of crowded wards in rural areas.

Four hospitals around the country have been upgraded at a cost of more than USD 1 million.

The Health sector in Rwanda is one of the exemplary ones in East Africa and the Region. Growing at a faster rate than any other health sector, issues revolving around health have become a priority in the government of Rwanda. The persistent and increased global and national responsibility, political will, financial commitment and public-private partnership has made this journey possible.

However, challenges still manifest themselves in the struggle to provide better healthcare for the Rwandan population, especially those living in rural areas.

As a result specific interventions that seek solutions beyond the health sector have been implemented. One major one is the training of healthcare personnel.

General Electric (GE), a private company working in Rwanda has pledged to train enough health workers as a way of attaining sustainable development that will result in meaningful socio-economic development.

Health issues in Rwanda and indeed in most Sub- Saharan Africa have gone on despite the overwhelming efforts that countries invest.

Jeanine Dusabe, an official working with Rwamagana Hospital said that personnel in certain specialised health professions like gynaecologists are lacking in the whole of Eastern Province.

“Mothers rely entirely on general medical practitioners, who cannot handle many complicated cases. Pregnant mother face a lot of problems when delivering due to the scarcity of gynaecologists,” she said. 

For this reason General Electric’s businesses have sprouted within various parts of Africa.

Deb Elam, the Vice President of GE said that their large scale cooperate initiatives are focused on developing healthcare and improve hospital facilities in 10 countries on the continent.

Rwanda is part of the Developing Health Globally Corporate Citizenship program, an initiative designed to improve healthcare delivery in these 10 African countries.

Rwanda was earmarked as a potential player in East Africa’s economy and GE is partnering with the government and Kigali City authorities to dramatically improve the power supply, transport system, water management, as well as install advanced security systems.

Dr. Ephraim Kabaija the Governor of Eastern Province said that GE is a great match for Rwanda’s vision 2020.
“As Rwanda implements its development plans, there are multi-billion projects for new airports, water facilities, renewable energy and better healthcare,” Kabaija said.

According to Kabaija, King Faisal referral hospital, Nyamata hospital, Mayange and Mareba are the four hospitals around the country that have been upgraded under the program at a cost of more than USD 1 million.

He underscored the fact that GE’s global capabilities and innovative approaches will contribute in all these developments.

Training medics

The limited number of health workers is one of the major reasons why health services are not reaching poor people in low income countries.

According to World Health Organization (WHO) 2009 report, fifty seven countries – mostly in sub-Saharan Africa – do not have the minimum health workforce required.

The same UN body says that it is shocking that while Africa has 11percent of the world population and carries 24 percent of the world’s disease burden, it has only 3 percent of the world’s health workers - and many of these workers continue to be lost to migration.

According to the 2008 WHO fact-sheet, Canada, New Zealand, United Kingdom and United States, a quarter or more of all physicians have been imported from other countries. 

Dr. Dariya Mukamusoni the Director of Nyamata Hospital reiterated the fact that the major undoing of the hospital’s lack of personnel has affected the smooth running of the hospital.

“The doctor- patient ratio is still very low; we have only nine doctors serving a population of over 300,000 people,” Mukamusoni said.

She also noted that hospital expansion in rural areas was necessary in order to provide enough space to accommodate the increasing number of patients.

In some hospitals, patients are congested in the wards; sometimes two patients share a single bed.

Equipping Health Centres

According to Dr. Mukamusoni, equipment like the oxygen plant and incubator machines meant to save premature babies, have already had a significant impact in the district.

“We used to send premature babies to Kigali, most of whom died on the way but this has changed; we can now handle these cases within our hospital,” she said.

“That General Electrics is set towards this trend is a magic bullet solution to healthcare issues in Rwanda,” added Mukamusoni.

Even though realizing substantial health standards in a country is very expensive, the determination to achieve results and involve local participation of the population is proving to be a journey towards better healthcare.

mugitoni@yahoo.com

 

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