Experts commend Rwanda’s community health system

KIGALI - Experts attending the first international conference on community health, yesterday, praised Rwanda’s performance in empowering community health workers.
Mothers bring their children for immunisation during a national campaign. Experts have commended Rwanda on child health (File Photo)
Mothers bring their children for immunisation during a national campaign. Experts have commended Rwanda on child health (File Photo)

KIGALI - Experts attending the first international conference on community health, yesterday, praised Rwanda’s performance in empowering community health workers.

Speaking at the four-day conference, the Senior Health Director of the International Rescue Committee, Emmanuel d’Harcourt, said that Rwanda is one of the countries that has a large number of children treated by Community Health Workers (CHWs).

“Rwanda also leads the table of effective community health workers’ reporting and supervision and this is because the country has effectively used the RapidSMS,” said d’Harcourt.

According to Dr. John Kalach, the Director of Musanze Hospital, RapidSMS is a free and open-source framework for dynamic data collection, logistics coordination and communication.

“Not just a simple data reporting or alert tool, RapidSMS is designed to allow two-way flow of information through automated feedback loops, with robust data analysis and messaging sent back to end-users,” Kalach said.

“In Rwanda, RapidSMS is used by CHWs to track pregnancy and neonatal life cycles with the strategic intent to save mothers and newborn lives, decrease maternal and neonatal mortality and hence contribute to fast tracking the attainment of mother and child health MDG.”

He, however, added that some of the challenges faced by the RapidSMS system include charging of the batteries used by telephones, in areas without electricity; response to RapidSMS Alerts in some cases is a challenge because of the topography and lack of skilled workers.

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