One of the world’s poorest countries, Rwanda was devastated by the 1994 genocide. Around that time, average life expectancy fell below 40 years.
Known locally as Inshuti Mu Buzima, Partners In Health eagerly volunteered to assist the Rwandan government in 2005. We have since helped to bring high-quality health care to three eastern districts that previously had some of the country’s worst health outcomes. Life expectancy has doubled, and Rwanda is a model for how resource-poor countries can build health systems from almost nothing.
The centerpiece of our work is the Butaro District Hospital, in Burera District. Opened in 2011, the hilltop facility with 156 beds brings modern medical care to a district that didn’t have a functioning hospital. Services range from internal medicine to outpatient ophthalmology; intensive care to an ear, nose, and throat clinic. It also serves as a center for medical education for East Africa. Clinicians from top hospitals and medical schools regularly lead training programs.
The adjoining Cancer Center of Excellence, opened in 2012, also stands out. It offers patients comprehensive cancer care, a service that’s unfortunately rare for poor farmers in other parts of the world.
Soon to join the campus, just downhill from the hospital, is the University of Global Health Equity. Launched in 2015, students spend two years working with Harvard Medical School faculty, Rwandan policy makers, and others. They learn how to deliver high-quality health care in poor communities and earn Masters of Science in Global Health Delivery. The construction of two dedicated school buildings is scheduled to begin in 2017.
If Butaro is the hub of our work in Rwanda, the spokes extend far. All told, we support the Rwandan government in providing services to roughly 1 million people, via three hospitals, 42 health centers, and some 7,200 community health workers in Burera, Southern Kayonza, and Kirehe districts.