In November 2014, Dr. Otto Fischer, a veterinary surgeon from Austria and Greg Bakunzi, a tour operator in Musanze, invited veterinarians and veterinary technicians from Musanze District to discuss the current situation and challenges of their profession.
Musanze was Fischer’s natural choice because there, he runs a not-for-profit education project called Future 4 Kids.
The outcome of the discussion was that a state-of-the-art diagnostic laboratory for veterinary practitioners was urgently needed in the country to create the desirable improvement in their work quality.
At the time, all the vets admitted that they were conducting their work the old way – relying on physical examinations.
In 2015, a Swiss foundation bought into the idea of establishing such a facility and agreed to bankroll it. Shortly after, three veterinary surgeons from Rwanda were selected to be trained at the University of Veterinary Medicine in Austria. They received post graduate training in the laboratory field as well as in clinical subjects.
Then Dr. Fischer and Jacques Shumbusho, a Rwandan engineer immediately embarked on a plan to build a veterinary hospital and laboratory in Rwaza Sector in Musanze.
Thereafter, he dedicated the hospital’s ownership and its day-to-day operations to Rwandans:
The hospital’s core mission is to improve animal conditions including health, welfare, animal nutrition and reproduction, among others.
On July 23 this year, the laboratory was approved by the Rwanda Agricultural Board (RAB) and will operate beginning 1st July 2016.
On July 29 2016, the hospital was officially unveiled in a colorful ceremony that attracted various personalities, including German Ambassador, Peter Fahrenholtz.
According to Dr. Fischer, the aim is to upgrade animal welfare and the standard of veterinary care in Rwanda in general.
Otherwise he describes the hospital as a private Rwandan company, run by Rwandan citizens.
“Austrian veterinarians as well as colleagues from other countries are willing to contribute to establish this facility and to share their knowledge,” he explained, adding that their vision is to provide high quality services to private animal owners as well as government institutions.
“We are looking forward to partner with local and international institutions and companies.”
Besides offering veterinary services to clients, the hospital also focuses on collaboration and interaction with veterinarians abroad like the Austrian-Rwandan Veterinary University of Veterinary Medicine in Vienna.
Since the return of the three Rwandan veterinarians from training in Austria, they have been reaching out to veterinary surgeons in Musanze and key livestock farmers in every sector. Already, a Memorandum of Understanding with the district has been signed.
The new facility boasts an examination room, a surgery theater, two laboratories –one for microbiology, and the other for parasitology and haematology , a well-stocked pharmacy, and an incinerator for disposing of dead animals.
“We want to set the pace as the premier private veterinary clinic and laboratory in the country, but also to be recognized as a key stakeholder in veterinary care and diagnostics in the country by adhering to high quality services as per international standards.
We want to improve veterinary diagnostics and treatment quality as well as animal welfare. Furthermore we will focus on the improvement of animal nutrition in quality and in quantity. This way we will contribute to the ongoing poverty reduction programs in the country and thereby enhancing economic development.
The hospital will strive to better the health and quality of life of animals and of the people who care for them. We acknowledge and live the One Health principle as animal health cannot be separated from human health issues.”
The hospital offers clinical services like surgery for small and large animals, and diagnostic imaging, animal nutrition, reproduction, ambulatory services, as well as hospitalization for large and small animals.
It operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week by-appointment-only format.
“New Vision Veterinary Hospital will be a center of research, cooperation, for education and training for veterinary surgeons, veterinary technicians, specialists and farmers in Musanze District and from any part of the country,” added Greg Bakunzi, the local partner for the project.
He added that the hospital hopes to be a self-sustainable and income-generating entity within two years.
Currently the team boasts a staff of eleven employees, all professionals in their respective fields. What’s more, they are all drawn from the local skills pool as opposed to filling all key positions with expatriates.
The clinical field services are under the responsibility of Dr. Vedaste Nyirimbuga, an experienced vet and surgeon, while laboratory diagnostic services are under the stewardship of Dr. Beatrice Mukamulisa and Dr. Jean Claude Masengesho.
“Our field service is already in operation, we are taking care of live stock by using our modern equipment to improve animal reproduction and health. A special task is to work on fertility problems where we use ultrasound to monitor pregnancy and diagnose fertility problems,” Fischer added.
“The hospital has created eleven jobs so far and is willing to expand and hire more personnel. We see the veterinary field as an important contributor to ensure human health and reduce poverty. For this goal we will work hard and we invite everyone to cooperate with New Vision Veterinary Hospital Rwanda.
We are willing to change it into a knowledge transfer center so that any veterinarians who wish to increase their knowledge could come and share challenges and experiences in what we call knowledge sharing meetings which will help to overcome field difficulties in this profession,” added Fischer.