How health sector rose from ‘drips’ induced by 1994 Genocide

The post-Genocide government has made a great stride to rejuvenate the Rwanda’s health sector through provision of quality health services to all citizens of the country.

The post-Genocide government has made a great stride to rejuvenate the Rwanda’s health sector through provision of quality health services to all citizens of the country.

To ease the challenges of socio-economic inequality through health care challenges, insurances services were put into use nearly 10 years ago. 

Services such as Mutuelle de Sante (health insurance scheme) used by all citizens irrespective of their social class, Rama currently under Rwanda socio-security board (RSSB) also for all but mainly for working class as well as MMI a military insurance for military personnel and their insurance.

All these were measures to fight incredible spread of diseases that occurred during the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi. 

There was rampant rise of infectious diseases during the Genocide. While there are many infectious diseases that can be transmitted through human body fluids contact, the most notable disease during this time was the rampant spread of HIV/Aids.

Based on various reports, the 1994 Genocide resulted in a number of women contracting the deadly HIV/Aids infection, which subsequently had serious implications on human health and the general Rwandese population. 

During mid-1990s and early 2000s, the post-Genocide government encountered great challenges to overcome repercussions of high disease spread. HIV/Aids has been one of major health challenges not only in Rwanda but also in the great lakes region. 

The reason being that rape, torture, murder and other gender based violence activities were high during the Genocide. The rate of spread of the disease was high and uncontrollable for all 100 days.

When the post genocide government realised that the HIV/Aids pandemic as well as other infectious diseases such as tuberculosis and malaria were a big threat on socio-economic front, institutions to manage these challenges were set up. 

During early 2000s, the minister of state in charge of HIV/Aids and others infectious diseases, the national commission for fight against HIV/Aids (CNLS) were established.

The two institutions worked hand in hand to reduce the rate of prevalence of the disease as well as deal with the challenges posed by high infection rates and death rates. 

This was done through continuous and concrete awareness programmes as well as designing immediate, long term strategic framework to overcome the social and economic challenges posed by the disease.

The achievements and hard work from the two institutions was manifested in 2005, when a health survey carried out by the experts from the ministry of health and its associates revealed a tremendous decline of the disease prevalence rate. 

The current very low prevalence rate for HIV/Aids shows how the post-genocide government and its health partners worked hard to protect the population from health challenges.

In the light of the current situation where many widows and genocide survivors have in previous years presented with HIV/Aids and its clinical sufferance, it is of no doubt that the 1994 Genocide had negative health impacts to the Rwandan population.

The post-Genocide government and its health partners responded in a way that does not only assist with the HIV/Aids victims to live their daily lives but also contribute to the socio-economic progress of their families and society. 

It is now clear that HIV hinders the full participation of its victim in daily life, which makes it vital to prevent the spread of such a disease. The prevention act has been propagated by use of the: abstinence, be faithful and use of condoms. Abstinence and faithfulness are the most dependable tools to prevent the infection. 

Use of condoms is also another scientific proven measure but people have reportedly misused it and this has partly contributed to moral setbacks, especially in the teen age groups.

The current programme of sex education in school curriculum is ideal to meat many sexual reproductive challenges. 

In addition, the Government of Rwanda has embarked on education and dialogue about the transmission as well as consequences of the disease to increase awareness of the disease in the society though it still remains a major threat to people in the great lakes region.

Global health experts and the ministry of health have persistently assisted with facilitation of dialogue and awareness rising amongst the population. This has helped to curb down the stigma.

The culture of peace and respect for human rights has prevailed so as to prevent the inevitable proliferation of the disease during bad periods. 

Women’s rights have been protected which includes doing away with cultural and traditional practices that impinge on measures to overcome gender based violence. 

The Rwanda National Police and the Ministry of Health have played a key role in the fight against gender-based violence.

In most cases, it is clear that stability is important for human security but the frustration generated in victims that have acquired HIV/Aids as a result of violence may hinder attempts for peace. 

It has, therefore, been a responsibility for our leaders to find solutions for those already infected with the disease. 

As far as justice is concerned, the importance of having both physically and psychologically healthy witnesses and potential witnesses enhances the quality of their testimonies and their ability to participate in trials, which has been vital for a fair judgment.

Dr Joseph Kamugisha is a resident oncologist in Jerusalem, Israel

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