The Ministry of Defence, in conjunction with that of Health on Friday launched “RDF Citizen Outreach Programme”, previously known as “Army Week”, at Rwamagana Provincial Hospital.
Here, 28 doctors and nurses from Rwanda Military Hospital, Kanombe took part in the exercise.
The programme involves treating and operating diseases mainly focusing on dental, oral and visual ailments, orthopedics, women and paediatric cases, among others.
The Minister for Health, Dr Diane Gashumba, said the exercise – which was simultaneously launched in different parts of the country – targets about 113,000 Rwandan patients of different ailments countrywide.
Giving an example of RDF doctors’ work ethics, the minister urged health workers to offer swift services.
“This is what medical doctors and nurses should learn; to offer quality care to our patients, and with sacrifice; without expecting other rewards because there is no better reward than seeing your patient going back home in good shape,” she said.
She pointed out that a larger number of patients had come to the hospital than before: “This this shows that they are expecting good and quick services from RDF doctors”.
Maj. Gen. Charles Karamba, the Air force Chief of Staff, said that since the country was well protected, it was time to start broadening security aspects in the country.
“As time goes by, the word security broadens in meaning. Security should be mirrored in health, self-sufficiency, education for our children, and social welfare, and more,” he said.
“What we do, we do it with sacrifice, courage, and rapidity, because time is money,” said Karamba.
Over ten years, the programme was known as “Army Week,” but Karamba said its scope had expanded, making it “RDF Citizens Outreach Programme.”
Now it has expanded to health, education, agriculture and infrastructure sectors, and beyond.
“RDF has made significant development, and the programme used to take one week, but now it is conducted for three months. It will end on July 30,” he said, adding that depending on cases, there was a possibility of continuing even after the three-month period.
Emmanuel Rubaduka, a resident who had undergone back surgery the previous night, said he had a painful lump in the back for over two years. He said he was thankful to the army and to the government, for the operation.
“I was not able to get medical treatment for my lump, but when I heard the announcement on radio, I decided to come here because I was suffering,” he said.
“I even tried to request transfer to Rwanda Military Hospital, but I was obliged to wait until August this year to meet a doctor due to a large number of patients on their waiting list,” said Rubaduka.
Fred Mufulukye, the Eastern Province Governor, said this means a strong pact, “igihango”, with the nation, RDF, and President Kagame.
“During commemoration events, we hear testimonies where stories end with survivors saying that they would have been killed had the former RPA soldiers not rescued them.
Meanwhile, in the northern part of the country, in Musanze District, a similar exercise was spearheaded by the Minister for Local Government Francis Kaboneka and Chief of Defence Staff, General Patrick Nyamvumba.
The groundbreaking ceremony was marked with refurbishing and constructing eight houses for the vulnerable in Gakuruka Cell, Musanze Sector. RDF is also expected to build 1,141 more houses in the district within the next three months.
Addressing the hundreds of residents who were gathered at G.S Musanze playground, Gen Nyamvumba said the prime responsibility of the RDF was to protect the country and its citizens by ensuring that all Rwandans are in good health.
“May this be clearly understood; security in our context doesn’t mean the absence of war, it rather means that Rwandans should have good health leading to more freedom. That’s why we work closely with other partners, more importantly, local goverment as it deals with supporting activities designed for local residents,” said Gen Nyamvumba.
Gen Nyamvumba tipped Musanze residents on values of self-reliance by borrowing a leaf from their counterparts in developed countries who won development struggle.
“All developed countries did not attain their progress through foreign support, it is the citizens of those countries who used their hands and brains to reach the development they are enjoying today. Therefore, if others can do it, so can we,” he noted.
Minister Kaboneka welcomed the RDF’s Citizen Outreach Programme stressing it showcases a culture of working together towards sustainable and inclusive development.