Rwanda’s healthcare system has revolutionized itself more than once. When the Clinton Health Access Initiative was first invited to Rwanda in 2002, it witnessed and supported the implementation of a high-quality, cost-effective HIV/AIDS treatment program. Rwanda defied conventions at the time and bridged the gap between urban and rural HIV/AIDS patients, delivering effective treatment to both populations.
It’s doing so once again through the Human Resources for Health Program, a bold effort led by the Ministry of Health to train an entire generation of Rwandan physicians, dentists, nurses and midwives, and health managers. What is clear to me, however, is that this is more than a revitalization of Rwanda’s health care system.
Today, more than 11 million people in Rwanda are served by fewer than 650 physicians.
Today, more than 11 million people in Rwanda are served by fewer than 650 physicians. Most nurses and midwives in the country – the very men and women who provide the bulk of health services to Rwandans – have training equivalent to less than a high school degree. Rwanda has had to look outside of its borders to adequately staff its four referral hospitals, 42 district hospitals, and more than 400 health centers with specialists.
Over the next 7 years, Rwanda's Human Resources for Health Program, supported by the Clinton Health Access Initiative, will seek to address this gap by strengthening Rwanda’s ability to train high-quality medical and health professionals within Rwanda.
Over the next 7 years, Rwanda's Human Resources for Health Program, supported by the Clinton Health Access Initiative, will seek to address this gap by strengthening Rwanda’s ability to train high-quality medical and health professionals within Rwanda. In each year of the program, more than 100 physicians, nurses and midwives, dentists, and global health management experts from U.S. academic partner institutions will spend one year at a time in Rwanda supporting their Rwandan colleagues in the areas of curriculum development, didactic teaching, clinical teaching, and management and administration.
In the first year of the program (which spanned the 2012 – 2013 academic year) faculty from 19 U.S. schools of medicine, nursing and public health traveled to Rwanda. Each of these individuals worked directly with Rwandan faculty members at the Rwandan schools of Public Health, Medicine, and Nursing and Midwifery. The first group of faculty from U.S. partner institutions conducted more than 600 lectures and over 70,000 hours of bedside teaching. With many of our current U.S. faculty staying on for the second year of the program, we anticipate to see even greater gains.
Over the life of its program, we hope to see Rwanda become a world-class site of medical and health education that can provide the medical and health professionals it needs to deliver first-rate care to its citizens. This program will help Rwanda move away from a reliance on foreign health professionals and into a position where it can collaborate and support its partners in the global health arena.