Rwanda, Africa -- (ReleaseWire) -- 10/05/2012 -- Described by former US President Bill Clinton as yet another feather in President Paul Kagame’s cap of doing things that have never been done before and are previously thought impossible, Rwanda is set to benefit from an initiative organized in collaboration with the Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI).
As per terms of the agreement, the Human Resources for Health Program (as it has been dubbed) will see various top-notch US Universities send 100 of its faculty members a year to assist medical nursing and public health schools, and also aid teaching hospitals to mentor Rwandan educators and students alike.
The American specialists will also train over 500 local medical specialists to improve the education levels of an estimated 2,000 nurses and midwives, and by contracting directly with US based Universities, this program will – over a seven-year period – effectively accomplish the goal of helping Rwanda strengthen its national health education system and build a highly-skilled health care workforce.
While this might all sound like yet another all-too-familiar hum-drum foreign initiative, there’s a huge caveat that sets this particular ‘initiative’ apart.
The project was designed to be run and fully funded by the Rwandan government itself after its initial launch phase, something that is, in the words of President Clinton, “literary unheard of in developing countries.”
This is a Rwandan plan devised by the Health Minister and will run on its own. However, the US institutions involved will bear a certain percentage of the financial brunt, as to make it work; American Universities have agreed to work with overhead cost of 7%. This basically means that cost of accommodation, transport and meals will be catered for by them, but the rest of the costs, which represent a larger chunk of the total project expenditure, will be taken care of by the Rwandan government.
The project is also designed in such a way that long-term sustainability is ensured, even after the first seven years elapse and American support is withdrawn.
Speaking at the official launch of the Human Resources for Health Program during the closing plenary session of the 2012 Clinton Global Initiative annual meeting in New York, the 42nd US President dedicated most of his keynote address to praising Rwandan President Paul Kagame, and particularly singled out Health Minister Dr. Agnes Binagwaho for conceiving of the idea, and now turning it into a reality.
In his trademark boyish enthusiasm and endearing prose, President Bill Clinton stressed that this was a never-before seen development, championed by the Rwanda government itself through the Health Ministry, to develop and innovate the health sector.
President Clinton extolled the virtues of the initiative, saying that when all is said and done, hundreds of thousands of Rwandans will have been impacted in a positive way, but most importantly the project sows the seeds of self-sustenance, since the defining point of this initiative is that it will be 100% self-sustainable.
The Rwandan government partnered with among other the US government, American Universities, Hospitals and the Elma Foundation to make it a reality.
While in the past there was a straight-up acute shortage of medical practitioners such as Doctors, Nurses and Midwives in Rwanda, the emergence of institutions such as the Kigali Health Institute and the upgrading of the National University of Rwanda School of Medicine has served to somewhat alleviate the issue.
However as is usually the case, getting over a hill leads to mountains and in came the issue of the suspect quality of education being delivered in these institutions as graduates often failed to live up to expectations, decrying lack of laboratories and skilled instructors of the highest levels during their course.
This is what makes a project of this nature indispensable to Rwanda. The statistics for the healthcare sector in the country, despite recent progress by leaps and bounds, paint a grim picture.
Without going into detail, for every success story such as local health coverage plan Mutuelle de Sante and reduced HIV/AIDS prevalence rates, there is also the still alarmingly low Doctor-Patient ratio, and low life expectancy rates, which is by and large the main measurement of quality of life standards in the country. This project will help assuage these problems and others, at least to a certain extent.
The Clinton Global Initiative through its various outreach arms such as the CHAI has had and continues to have huge impact not only in Rwanda but on a global scale as well, having helped over 4 million people benefit from CHAI-negotiated reduced prices on lifesaving ARVs, 80% reduction on the price of the most effective Malaria treatments among other life-altering achievements.
In 2002, the Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI) began as the Clinton HIV/AIDS Initiative to address the HIV/AIDS crisis in the developing world and strengthen health systems there. Taking the lead from governments and working with partners, CHAI has improved markets for medicines and diagnostics, lowered the costs of treatments, and expanded access to life-saving technologies — creating a sustainable model that can be owned and maintained by governments.
CHAI has since expanded this model to increase access to high-quality treatment for malaria, accelerate the rollout of new vaccines, and lower infant mortality.
On January 1, 2010, CHAI became a separate nonprofit organization. CHAI works closely with both governments and other partners to improve the management and organization of in-country health systems and global commodity markets while addressing key health systems barriers. Across all programs, the initiative seeks to have rapid and large-scale impact while at the same time ensuring solutions are sustainable and can be owned and maintained by government partners.
Globally, CHAI negotiates price reductions for drugs and diagnostics while also working to increase the quality of these commodities. To date, more than 70 countries have access to lower priced drugs as a result of CHAI’s work with pharmaceutical companies. 3.9 million people – representing nearly 70% of people being treated for HIV/AIDS globally – have benefited from these reduced-price medicines. Countries have been helped to save more than $1 billion by reducing the price of some drugs by 60-90% in the past three years.
But, back to Rwanda. President Clinton, during his speech, mentioned time and again how he had never seen a project of this nature in his lifetime, which carries considerable weight coming from a former US President who has travelled the world over. Rwanda continues to set the pace in innovative and sustainable ways to develop herself.
But as President Kagame has stated many a time, the Rwandan people themselves are the country’s greatest asset and providing top-notch healthcare is and should be a priority of the government. So far, so good.
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