A team of specialist doctors in ear, nose, throat (otolaryngology) and eyes (ophthalmology) from seven countries have started an outreach programme that will see dozens of Rwandans treated from Kibungo Referral Hospital.
The team is made up of 22 experts from Israel, Switzerland, Hungary, Belgium, Luxembourg, France, Kenya, and Algeria. Rwandan doctors are also working with them.
They started their medical camp on Monday and will conduct it through Friday.
The medics took some days off from their work in their respective countries to come to Rwanda, and, according to organisers, the outcome of the outreach is likely to lead to similar missions in the future.
Some of the patients came from districts outside of Eastern Province.
The doctors came under Fondation Heron, a body that was created earlier this year with mission to promote education and health, and this is their first medical camp since they started operations.
They said they preferred to begin with Rwanda before taking their services to other countries.
Dr William Namanya, the Director General of Kibungo Referral Hospital, said they had been screening potential beneficiaries for two weeks.
He said more than 400 patients from across the country had earlier been registered for ear, nose and throat health care services, while 106 others who have eye problems were registered to consult the specialists.
The number increased on Monday, but he said they will serve them all.
“It is very clear that Rwandans today understand the benefits of seeking medical treatment,” he said.
Besides the fact that the community will get medical attention, he said some of the hospital’s personnel will gain more experience by working alongside the specialists for the weeklong camp.
“Some of our doctors will work with these specialists, for example the ones in operating theatre, those assisting them certainly learn something from the experts,” he said.
According to Laurent Brackaert, a member of the Foundation, said that they have three eye specialists in cataract surgery, in glaucoma surgery, and in oculoplasty surgery.
“We also have two ENT (ear nose and throat) specialists with us,” he said.
Elias Munyankubito, who travelled all the way from Musanze District, has an eye problem and is banking on the specialists for permanent cure.
“I had previously sought treatment at a private hospital, but they told me that it would cost me around Rwf2 million to get completely healed. I cannot really get such amount of money, that is why I came here because I was told they would provide the service for free,” he said.
Screening school children
Meanwhile, as part of the medical camp, the experts are also screening children aged between 6 and 12 years from Groupe Scolaire Kazo, Kazo Sector, Ngoma District.
At least 1,100 children will be screened and immediately accorded further care if any visual problem noticed. The sick children will be given glasses and hearing heads.
Aicha Mokdahi, the head, Essilor Foundation, that has partnered with Heron to provide visual materials to the children from the school, said visual impairment is of global concern.
Jonathan Abittan, the president of Heron Foundation, stressed the importance of ridding sight and hearing impairments among children.
“Sometimes we see a child and think they are not being good students; maybe they don’t understand or maybe they are slow (in class), because their vision and the hearing are not good enough,” he said.