Ruhengeri Referral Hospital will effective next month start undergoing a major infrastructure upgrade which will see almost all the structures of the hospital rebuilt from scratch.
The hospital was too old, having been built in 1939 during colonial era.
The facility was too dilapidated especially the section of patients’ wards and medics’ offices, a situation which many patients have partly blamed for the endemic poor service delivery.
The hospital is located in Musanze town centre and it is both a referral facility and the only district hospital in the district and it serves a population of over 400,000 with 16 health Centers.
The upgrade has been in pipeline for a number of years now, according to officials.
Government had pledged to rebuild the hospital back in 2013 but put the plan on hold until the President renewed the commitment last year during his visit in Musanze district.
The President had been disappointed by the slow pace at which health authorities were implementing the project and he asked various ministries and institutions to coordinate efforts to upgrade the hospital “at any cost through either available resources or a loan.”
The ministries of health and finance together with Rwanda Housing Authority, the hospital management and Musanze district were among other organs tasked to fast-track the project.
Speaking to The New Times, the director-general of Ruhengeri Referral Hospital, Dr. Philbert Muhire noted that the construction works will be undertaken within 24 months starting in February.
“All is set, the hospital will be reconstructed from scratch; the existing hospital normally is built on an immense chunk of land so the new hospital will be built on half of the compound and we are starting next month by having in place construction materials and other basic works,” he said.
To minimize interruption of the hospital services, he said that some of the old structures will remain in place and it is from there the hospital will continue operating.
Though he refused to divulge the cost of the construction works, reliable sources have intimated that the project is worth up to Rwf30 billion.
The tender to construct the hospital have been awarded to a Dutch company which is set to immediately begin construction activities once the final architectural designs are endorsed.
“It will be a modern hospital as per the project which has been endorsed by a technical team which has been set to follow up the Presidential pledge,” added Muhire stressing that besides reconstruction the hospital will be given new equipment.
Muhire added that the hospital was grappling with accommodating a number of patients who are transferred from various parts of the country to seek advanced treatment since the government made the hospital ‘referral’.
“The government gave this hospital a referral status in 2014 but there are some health services that we cannot provide because the hospital is too old and small which actually leads to congestion of patients notably in the maternity, pediatric, and in intensive care wards,” he said.
He said the hospital receives between 5,800 and 6,000 patients a month, which he said is not proportional to the hospital capacity in terms of accommodation facilities.
Speaking to The New Times, the Northern Province Governor Jean Marie Vianney stressed that officials were aware of a number of problems the hospital faces due to old infrastructure.
Gatabazi stressed that the hospital upgrade project will be a sustainable remedy to challenges that Ruhengeri Referral Hospital faced previously.
He challenged private hospitals and clinics in Musanze city centre to raise to the occasion and upgrade their facilities so that they can supplement Ruhengeri Hospital in offering quality health services.