Serving Nearly one million people
In the past two decades, Rwanda has been transformed from a nation defined by genocide into a nation defined by progress. After the genocide in 1994 that claimed more than a million lives, the average life expectancy dropped to 28 years. The Rwandan government’s commitment to development has been remarkable, and as of 2015, the average life expectancy is 62 years, and Rwanda is the only sub-Saharan Africa country on pace to meet all its health-related Millennium Development Goals.
We work to implement a Total District Strategy, which means we are committed to supporting all health facilities, from health posts up to districts hospitals in the three districts where we operate. To date, we support high-quality health care delivery in three hospitals, 43 health centers, and through a network of over 5,000 community health workers, we serve a population of close to one million people.
Kayonza District is located in the eastern province of Rwanda and contains Akagera National Park. In 2005, at the invitation of the Rwandan Government, PIH/IMB began operating in Southern Kayonza.At the time, it consistently reported some of the worst health outcomes in the country. We have been working with the Ministry of Health to improve the health system infrastructure in the region. We currently support the district hospital in Rwinkwavu, as well as eight health centers in the region, serving a population of over 300,000.
We implemented a community-based accompaniment approach to HIV treatment that has proven successful. We work to bring health care closer to patients’ homes by training over 900 community health workers. The recently renovated maternity ward at Rwinkwavu Hospital helps to decrease preventable maternal deaths, and the Pediatric Development Clinics help to ensure at-risk newborns remain healthy. Located at our main offices in Rwinkwavu, our training center continually trains a range of Rwandan health care professionals.
Kirehe district is located in the southeast of Rwanda, bordering Tanzania. Of the 340,000 inhabitants, about 90 percent make a living through agriculture or livestock. When PIH/IMB began operating in Kirehe in 2006, the district lacked a hospital. In partnership with the Rwandan Government, we constructed Kirehe District Hospital to better serve the region. Additionally, we constructed or supported major renovations for 16 health centers in the region and helped to equip these health facilities with medical equipment.
In the 10 years we have been operating in the district, we have implemented many of our innovative approaches to care including HIV accompaniment, integrated NCD treatment, maternal and child health interventions, and our livelihood program to address social and economic factors of health. We have been working to decentralize care by training frontline health workers and strengthening health systems in order to bring high-quality care closer to the homes of those who need it.
In 2016, we opened a new state-of-the-art neonatal high care unit at the Kirehe District Hosital. This new unit is complete with modern incubators to care for extremely vulnerable newborns at the district hospital level. In all health facilities we support in the district, we have implemented quality improvement projects through our mentorship program. These endeavors target critical areas for improvement and systematically create solutions to improve the quality of care provided.
Burera district is located in the northern province of Rwanda, bordering Uganda. The mountainous district is among the poorest in the country with nearly a quarter of the population living in extreme poverty. Previously, it was the only district in Rwanda without a hospital. The health system in the district consisted of just seven health centers. More than 300,000 inhabitants were forced to walk great distances or cross a large lake to access the nearest hospital in the neighboring district.
In 2008, the Rwandan government invited PIH/IMB to begin operating in the district to strengthen the health system. Through partnership with the Ministry of Health and other partner organization, Butaro Hospital was constructed to provide world-class care to the underserved region. The 150-bed hospital is an ambitious endeavor to redefine what rural health care looks like. In addition to providing complementary health care services, the Butaro Cancer Center of Excellence provides the most sophisticated cancer care available in Rwanda’s public health system and is now designated as the national cancer referral center.
In partnership with the MOH , we expanded the region’s primary health care system by increasing the number of health centers from seven to 19. These health centers now provide high-quality primary health care as well as innovative programs such as decentralized mental health care.
Our work in the district also includes our programs in infectious disease, noncommunicable disease, and maternal and child health. In addition to clinical programs, our livelihood program works to treat the root causes of illness through food security programs, microloans, educational support programs, and housing projects. A series of houses were constructed to provide housing for a community of returning refugees.
The University of Global Health Equity, an initiative of PIH, is being constructed nearby Butaro Hospital. The university will create the next generation of global health experts by providing world-class education with hands-on experience. Through partnership with UGHE, Butaro Hospital will become a teaching hospital for medical students and help increase the number of medical professionals in Rwanda.