The Government of Rwanda on Thursday, September 24, received a total of 40 ambulances from the Kingdom of Belgium in a move aimed at scaling medical services in the country.
Speaking at the handover, health minister Dr. Daniel Ngamije noted that the support contributes to the attainment of the country’s national strategy in the context of epidemics response including Ebola and the current coronavirus pandemic, among others.
“This gesture will boost Rwanda's sustainable development agenda for the socio-economic welfare of its people. In addition, it brings a benefit to the work in progress to ensure Universal Health Coverage.” Minister Ngamije said.
Each of the 40 ambulances donated is worth Rwf43 million, but the minister said that the country has so far received in total of 43 ambulances from Belgians worth Rwf2 billion since the beginning of the year.
According to Ngamije, the Belgian government supports Rwanda’s health sector in various projects that have been helping the health sector to improve access to primary health care.
Some of the programmes include the construction of Nyarugenge District Hospital Phase 1, Construction of Health Centres in Kigali among others.
Benoit Ryelandt, the Belgian ambassador to Rwanda echoed the same sentiments saying that the support was planned to expand and facilitate access to health care, “Particularly for the benefit of people living in rural areas, sometimes far away from distant hospitals and health care centres.”
The initial plan was to procure 10 vehicles per year.
However Ryelandt added that; “Taking into account the urgent needs for medical transportation which also accelerated as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, I am very happy that we could eventually proceed through a fast-track procurement and deliver all 40 ambulances at once.”
Following the handover, the ambassador revealed that the ambulances will now be distributed to hospitals across the country.
“In Kigali, two ambulances will serve the new Nyarugenge District Hospital. This hospital which has been built with Belgian Government financing is almost completed and ready to enter into operation.”
Minister Ngamije however cautioned hospitals the get the ambulances to take good care of them such that they can contribute to the quality of services offered to the population.
The minister also said that the Government of Rwanda will continue to build-up facilities needed to improve access to healthcare at all levels and emphasize on the patient centered systems.
On the sidelines of the ceremony, Dr Sabin Nsanzimana, Director General of Rwanda Biomedical Centre explained to The New Times that owing to the current situation the country has set a goal to attain 150 ambulances by next year.
Initially, Nsanzimana noted that the goal was meant to be implemented in this year but it was delayed by the coronavirus pandemic.
“The number resulted from a survey conducted to assess the current situation. We want to ensure that a patient is transferred to a nearby health facility in less than 30 minutes,” he said.
Officials pose for a group photo during the handover. / Craish Bahizi