EDITORIAL: Private sector should help plug the health skills gap

The Government has announced plans to build a 300-bed hospital in the popular Kigali city neighbourhood of Nyamirambo.

The Government has announced plans to build a 300-bed hospital in the popular Kigali city neighbourhood of Nyamirambo.

It is part of a wider policy to bring effective healthcare closer to the people. One might not see the importance of that “expensive” decision seeing that many countries, especially on the African continent, what were once top-notch hospitals have gone to ruin. They have become redundant edifices that lost their splendour decades ago.

Rwanda has moved the opposite direction and, with purpose, only a healthy population will be able to keep up the pace of development that the country has embarked on.

In the last five years or so, the country has seen the construction of a multitude of mega hospitals in all parts of the country; Kinihira, Shyira, Butaro, Kinazi, to name but a few. Rwanda Military Hospital, Kanombe has gone a notch higher and embarked on an ambitious expansion project, creating new specialised departments with the latest equipment and specialists.

In fact, very soon it will be able to tackle complicated cases that would otherwise require treatment outside the country, a heavy burden on the state coffers.

All those improvements in the health sector would not be complete without mentioning the very successful implementation of the universal health coverage.

The Government has done its bit as far as laying down the foundation for better healthcare, but there is a big void as far as skills transfer is concerned. Of all the institutions of higher learning, only the government-run National University of Rwanda has a medical school. Some of the existing private universities that have been in existence for many years are conspicuously absent and it is time they showed up.

They could even mull the idea of partnership, something like creating a joint medical facility and sharing resources as there is no way the Government will be able to plug the medical skills gap on its own. The opportunities are there but lack the taking.

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