AIMABLE lost a leg 10 years ago in an accident. After treatment with coverage of community health insurance (Mutuelle de Santé), doctors told him he had to pay the full amount for an artificial limb.
He had no choice other than paying the required amount. But he was disappointed.
“I wished to pay using my insurance but I was told that it did not cover artificial limbs,” said Aimable.
He paid more than Rwf300,000 to cover both the crutches and the artificial limb.
Aimable is not the only one affected by the fact that Mutuelle de Santé does not cover artificial limbs and other tools that help people with disabilities to live a normal life.
Visually impaired people and those with hearing impairments also face similar challenges and call for a solution.
Jacques Mugisha, who is visually impaired, said ever since he became blind, he has been getting white cane that help him in mobility and orientation from well-wishers.
“Most people with disabilities used to use regular sticks or they would be guided by helpers, but now visually impaired people use white cane. However, they are expensive given that all of them are imported,” said Mugisha
Prosthesis cost between Rwf220,000 and Rwf360,000, while crutches cost between Rwf20,000 and Rwf40,000, depending on the category. A wheelchair goes up to Rwf250,000.
One white cane costs between $40 and $70 (between Rwf30,000 and Rwf60,000).
According to Eric Ruzindana, from Functional Rehabilitation Centre (CRF)” at Gahini, a facility that deals with people with disabilities, most people coming for artificial limbs lack the means to buy them.
“Most are poor and artificial limbs are very difficult. We have been working with donors who sometimes pay for them but most affected people do not have the means of getting them,” said Ruzindana.
‘Govt working on support’
However, Alvera Mukabaramba, the state minister in charge of social affairs at the Ministry of Local Government, said the issues will be resolved soon.
She said Rwandan laws are keen on supporting people with disabilities and plans are underway to help them get artificial limbs and other tools using Mutuelle de Santé
Mukabaramba said they had identified more than 160,000 people living with disabilities and had been divided into five categories based on their impairment level so that whoever needs artificial limbs will get them.
“A team is looking into how people can get artificial limbs using community health insurance. Artificial limbs are very expensive and if we do not pay attention, Mutuelle de Santé would incur losses. We are also looking into how ways both parties can benefit,” Mukabaramba said
Some the disabled persons who spoke to The New Times welcomed the Government’s move saying it would help them get the equipment at a lower cost.
“That is good news, we have been requesting for Mutuelle de Santé to cover our needs but officials have kept a deaf ear. Now that they have that in the pipeline, we are grateful,” said Aimable.