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5 Critical Factors In Rwanda’s Healthcare SuccessJust in the last ten years in Rwanda, deaths from HIV, TB, and malaria have dropped by 80 percent, annual child deaths have fallen by 63 percent, maternal mortality has dropped by 60 percent, and life expectancy has doubled. All at an average annual healthcare cost of $55 per person.

Normally, after horrific national traumas, like Rwanda’s genocide of almost a million people in 1994, countries fall into a cycle of poverty and economic stagnation. Poor health and disease cripple workers and then the national economy, leaving the country ineffective to break out of depression.

A recent article in BMJ, led by Dr. Paul Farmer, Chair of the Department of Global Health and Social Medicine at Harvard Medical School, examined data from the World Health Organization (WHO) and attempted to identify why Rwanda was able to make such dramatic progress when so many other nations have failed before them.

They identified 5 critical factors In Rwanda’s healthcare success:

1. The government formed a centralized plan for economic development, with one of the pillars being health care; knowing that, without improving health, poverty would persist. There were heavy research and reliance on facts and data to formulate their health metrics.

2. Aid allocation was controlled and monitored; the government insisted that all aid agencies meet transparency and accountability standards consistent with the national development plan.

3. A treatment plan addressing all the associated issues around AIDS was implemented:  tuberculosis, malnutrition, need for in-home care, community health workers, “psychosocial” support, primary and prenatal care.

4. Financial incentive was given to coordinate care; a performance-based financing system was set up to pay hospitals, clinics and community health workers to follow-up on patients and improve primary care.

5. Universal health insurance for all citizens, with particular attention to providing for the most vulnerable populations. The average, annual out-of-pocket health spending was cut in half, and households experiencing health care bills that force them into poverty were significantly reduced. (Half the funding came from international donors and a half from annual premiums of less than $2 per person.)

Access to healthcare for ALL citizens is a prerequisite for controlling diseases and thus allowing for economic growth to lift people, and nations, out of poverty. The medical advances in Rwanda have pushed their economic growth, the GDP per person has tripled, and millions have been lifted from poverty over the last decade. Rwanda offers a replicable model for the delivery of high-quality healthcare and effective oversight, and even with limited resources.

– Mary Purcell

Source: The Atlantic


Filmed in 2012, ‘Open Heart’ documents the journey of eight patients going through surgery at the Salam Center in Khartoum, Sudan. Salam is Africa’s only state-of-the-art, free-of-charge cardiac hospital offering children’s heart surgery and has been operating since 2007.

‘Open Heart’ follows Dr. Gino Strada, a surgeon at Salam and features Angelique Tuyishimere, the six-year-old daughter of a Rawandan farmer. Close to a third of the patients at Salam are under 14 making children’s heart surgery a common occurence at Salam.

Salam employs four cardiac surgeons  and is set up for 1,500 operations per year. However, due to funding issues, last year only 600 patients were operated on. Dr. Strada is forward about admitting the need in Africa is more than Salam can aid, but is still very happy with the progress that has been made and optimistic about the future.

Now, Davidson and the doctors – Rusingiza and Strada – will be attending the Oscars. If passport and visa issues are resolved, six-year-old Angelique and her dad will also be attending. Although he stands the chance of being honored at the Oscars, documentarian Kief Davidson still has not lost sight of the original problem being addressed – the lack of affordable healthcare in Africa, especially concerning the preventable diseases fought at Salam.

– Pete Grapentien

Source ABC News

rwanda-hospital

1994 marked the end of genocide in Rwanda and the beginning of an effort to rebuild a country that was dismantled by genocide. Now, almost two decades later, Rwanda has become a story of evident progress.

In the last two decades, Rwanda has seen tremendous social and economic improvement. The percentage of the population living below the poverty line has sharply decreased from 78 percent in 1994 to 45 percent in 2013. The gross domestic product of Rwanda has more than tripled. Average life expectancy has doubled from 28 years to 56 years of age. Maternal mortality has decreased by 60 percent. The chance of a child under 5 dying has decreased by 70 percent. 99 percent of primary-school-age children are in school.

How has this happened?

According to a research study conducted by Partners in Health that was recently published in the British Medical Journal, improved health care has been the Rwandan answer.

Cameron Nutt, a member of the Partners in Health research team, stated, “The Rwandan government has attacked the deadliest diseases in the most vulnerable parts of the population”. It has subsidized the prices of many medicines and made it possible for nearly 98 percent of the population to have health insurance and access to preventative care, such as mosquito nets and vaccines. Rwandan leaders have taken a proactive approach to ensure the advancement of its health care system. The country has successfully utilized Western aid to train Rwandans in medical fields and improve the way in which major diseases, such as AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria, are treated.

For Rwanda, health care has meant vast amounts of change and improvement. Health care has equated for fewer people living below the poverty line, more people living longer, and more people being able to work and contribute to their country. Health care has resulted in successful development.

– Angela Hooks

Sources: NY Times, The Dartmouth

Photo Source: PHR