BURERA - President Paul Kagame, accompanied by First Lady Jeannette Kagame, yesterday officially opened a state-of-the-art hospital in Butaro, Burera District, Northern Province.
It is the first rural health facility of its kind in the East African region and beyond.
The 152-bed hospital which boasts of modern medical equipment, ultra-modern buildings and modern ICT facilities was built at a cost of Rwf.3.35bn in a partnership bringing together the Government of Rwanda, Partners in Health, the Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI) and the people of Burera.
In his address shortly after opening the hospital, President Kagame described the facility as a “welcome addition” to Rwanda health infrastructure which came out of a good partnership between people with different backgrounds.
“Butaro is more than a hospital. It is a unique story of exceptional people with the desire to see positive change in the world and in communities like the one hosting us today,’
“It is also a story about strong and mutually benefiting partnerships and the fact that when we come together and join forces, commendable results can be achieved,” President Kagame said.
He particularly thanked Dr. Paul Farmer, the Founder of Partners in Health the Clinton Health Access Initiative and Dan Nova, as well as other friends of Rwanda, for the commitment to work with Rwandans to establish the modern hospital, that is expected to improve lives in the rural district.
He noted that the hospital will not only improve health services in the region, but will also boost the socio-economic development of the country.
“The health of the nation’s citizens is paramount to its present well being and future prosperity. That’s why we have placed such a high premium at strengthening our health sector and why the government of Rwanda has committed increasing expenditure in the sector, especially in primary health services and quality of care,” Kagame said.
“However, we realise that we alone cannot achieve it, that is why we are so pleased to have partners who understand our priorities and put their effort and resources.”
The President added that the hospital is the best example of a successful partnership, drawing the best out of the public, government and non-governmental entities. He noted that the effective partnership should be replicated, not just in the health sector, but in other sectors as well, including agriculture, education as well as infrastructure.
The President observed that the construction of the hospital showed how development projects can come with multiple advantages to the people of the local area including jobs, skills, and incomes and that it is commendable that local products were used in the construction.
“The people’s involvement has closely identified them with the project which certainly they now see as their own,” he added
He called on both the communities and the health workers to put the facility to its rightful use and protect it jealously to benefit even the future generations.
Earlier, Dr. Farmer had reflected on how in just two years, a partnership between the government of Rwanda, his organisation, CHAI and other friends of Rwanda, had given birth to a world class hospital in a rural setting like Burera.
He described the hospital as a of partnership, innovation and gratitude, adding that it is a result of the vision and dignity of the Rwandan people inspired by a visionary leadership.
The Minister of Health, Dr. Richard Sezibera, noted that when President Kagame pledged the hospital in 2003, Burera District had none and had only one doctor, but today it has 23 health facilities including the newly opened hospital and 15 health centres.
The Minister noted that from the district with the poorest health statistics, government efforts have seen child mortality rates, maternal deaths and malnutrition decline tremendously.
Meeting Burera residents
Later in the evening, President Kagame addressed thousands of Burera Residents who had gathered at Kirambo Sector. He thanked them for voting him back into office and pledged to continue delivering on his promises, citing the newly opened hospital as one of them.
He urged the residents of the district to continue with the hard work, reminding them that through partnership with their leaders, a lot can be achieved. The President added that Rwanda is a country with good leaders, good people and good friends with one thing in common; building the country.
He pledged the government’s commitment to continue delivering good roads in the hilly district, clean water, schools, electricity and more hospitals, calling on the people to maintain food security as well as peace and stability.
He later interacted with the residents for discussions on various developmental issues.