Tagged: Health

How Rwanda’s clinics have gone off-grid and onto renewable energy


By Bruce Krogh, Carnegie Mellon University and Taha Selim Ustun

Rwanda is located in the poorest region in the world, sub-Saharan Africa. Despite this, it is making advances with off-grid renewable energy solutions for rural areas that could be a model for similar economies.

Rwanda has harnessed its endowment with enormous, untapped renewable energy generation potential to address the problem of how to get energy into remote parts of the country.

The approach being taken accepts that extending the electricity grid to remote areas is fraught with problems. It is expensive, transport costs are high, and accessibility is difficult. In sub-Saharan Africa, grid-extension costs $23,000 per kilometre.

A project to get clinics in remote areas of Rwanda onto reliable sources of renewable energy has recently been stepped up a notch with the introduction of technology that smooths distribution.

Small-scale generation for remote areas

Off-grid electrical systems, where power is derived from renewable energy, have the potential in Rwanda for taking advantage of several types of small-scale generation.

This has become more feasible with the development of new technologies that have revolutionised the possibilities for making these systems highly resilient and economically sustainable. Examples include smart meters with wireless communication and sophisticated technology for fine-grained monitoring and control.

Rwanda is taking advantage of developments such as this to crack the problem of getting electricity to remote clinics.

Uninterrupted access to electricity is a key requirement for improving care in health facilities. But access to either grid or off-grid electricity is still one of the grand challenges for rural health centres in the region. One-quarter of health facilities are not connected to any source of electricity. On average, three-quarters of facilities have no reliable source of electricity. This leads to a poor health care service delivery.

83% of Rwanda’s population live in rural areas. This makes healthcare in these areas all the more important. And ensuring that healthcare centres have power is vital.

To overcome this obstacle decentralised power sources such as PV systems are becoming popular in rural areas because of their cost effectiveness compared to grid extensions. PV systems basically convert solar energy to direct current electricity using semi-conducting materials. But these have not proved adequate in matching supply with demand because:

  • Health centres operate on a first-come first-serve basis. If health centres continue to use connected electronic devices without proper management, the chances of blackouts will increase and patients will suffer.
  • Unused energy from fewer patients than expected also presents a problem as energy is wasted. Making batteries available to store energy can be a way to ensure less is wasted, help avoid shortages and manage excess demands. But this option is expensive.

The graph below shows the ad-hoc scheduling of energy services in PV-power health clinics. Between t0-t1, the power demand exceeds available solar power. The t1-t2 window sees no load. This results in some services not being delivered, unnecessary use of batteries, and hence a shorter life-time, and less orderly operation.

Existing ways scheduling show overutilisation and underutilisation of the energy generated by solar systems.
Click to enlarge

Smart scheduling has done the trick

Smart scheduling is used to match consumption of active services with the available solar power. This results in minimum use of batteries or other energy sources.

The idea lying behind is as follows: the central controller estimates daily solar profile of the PV panels by pulling solar radiation information from online servers. Then when a physician wants to undertake an operation that requires electricity he sends a request to the central controller. This request includes power consumption and the duration of the operation.

In our prototype, the final decision lies with the system. Different services have different priorities. So, a surgery room may be given the highest priority during system planning. If an emergency occurs and a surgery room is fed into the system, it will be given the highest priority.

But human intervention is possible. The central controller is a photo voltaic (PV) inside the clinic. This means that a clinic administrator or the highest ranking physician can tap into the system, remove some services from the list and add some others.

The central controller checks the available solar power and the loads that are already being served. If there is sufficient excess energy, the request is confirmed and the energy is delivered. If there is not sufficient energy the controller schedules the request to when there will be enough energy. This may happen due to solar radiation, hence the generation, increasing or a service that was already receiving energy load being terminated.

In this way, facilities are used in a smart way and solar generation is used as it is generated.

Copied from The Conversation.


Rwanda fastest growing economy in ten years




Mothers display their Mutuelle de Sante cards. Experts attribute Rwanda’s performance to provision of health care to all citizens. File.


26. July 2014

Rwanda recorded the fastest growth in Africa between the years 2000 and 2013, according to the latest UN Human Development Report (HDR).

Compiled annually by the United Nations Development Programme, the 2014 report was launched on Thursday in Tokyo, Japan. It is entitled; ‘Sustaining human progress: reducing vulnerabilities and building resilience.’

It says  that between 2000 and 2013, Sub Saharan Africa was the second sub-region in as far as achieving high progress in human development is concerned. Human development, according to UNDP, has a combination of three factors; income, health and education.

“Rwanda and Ethiopia achieved the fastest growth, followed by Angola, Burundi, Mali, Mozambique, the United Republic of Tanzania and Zambia, the report reads in part.

For sustainability, the UN urges countries to transition from agriculture-based economies to industry and services, while supporting investments in infrastructure and education so that more people can get jobs in the formal sector.

“Africa is enjoying higher levels of economic growth and well-being, but insecurity, as well as natural or human-induced disasters, persist in some parts of the region,” Abdoulaye Mar Dieye, the Director of UNDP’s Regional Bureau for Africa, is quoted saying in a statement.

He said countries in Sub-Saharan Africa need to intensify their battle against deprivation and prevent crises from ruining recent development gains.

“Withstanding crises and protecting the most vulnerable, who are the most affected, are key to sustainable development,” he said.

“The eradication of poverty is not just about ‘getting to zero’—it is also about staying there,” the Administrator of UNDP, Helen Clark, points out in the Foreword, adding that the report’s focus on resilience is highly relevant to the current discussions on the post-2015 global development agenda.

Social protection

Furthermore, social protection schemes such as unemployment insurance and pensions, universal health coverage and cash transfers can help individuals and communities weather difficult times and invest in the future, says the report.

Under the social protection initiatives in the just concluded 2013/2014 national budget, government continued to support the needy, including Genocide survivors, by giving them health care, education, monthly stipends and fostering income generating activities.

Expert’s take 

In an interview with The New Times, Andrew Mold, a senior economist with the UN Economic Commission for Africa based in Kigali, attributed Rwanda’s performance to provision of health care to the citizenry.

“The report singles out China, Rwanda and Vietnam for having achieved the transition from very low health care coverage to nearly universal coverage within just a decade,” said Mold, who heads the Eastern Africa Data Centre for UNECA.

He said this was reflected in the country’s rapidly growing life expectancy.

“Back in 2000, it was just 47 years but it is now close to 64 years which is impressive by any standards,” he said.

On the financial component, he said the steady economic growth was another attribute that led to the country’s commendation in the report, saying that much as the country’s ambitious 11.5 per cent growth rate set out in EDPRS II has not yet been achieved, income per capita has grown steadily over the past decade.

EDPRS II is the Economic Development and Poverty Reduction Strategy, a blueprint adopted to steer the country’s development for a five-year period, starting 2013.

“The performance has still been good, at over 7 per cent per annum. Moreover, despite the global economic recession in 2008-9, the Rwandan economy proved to be quite resilient,” Mold said.

Contact email: Ben.gasore[at]newtimes.co.rw



Source: www.newtimes.co.rw

Rwanda Pioneers Use of Non-Surgical Circumcision Method


27. 11. 2013

Minister Agnes Binagwaho and other health officials at the launch of prepex at Kanombe Military Hospital

Rwanda has become the first country to launch a nationwide scale-up of non-surgical adult male circumcision method (Prepex) to reduce the rate of HIV infections

Adult men will be able to access the Voluntary Medical Male Circumcision (VMMC) services which now targets over 700.000 adults (between 15-49 years) in the scale up program.

The non-surgical method was launched on November 26, 2013 in Kigali by Rwanda’s Minister of Health, Dr. Agnes Binagwaho.

The method was developed by Tzameret Fuerst, who are medical experts and co-founders of Prepex. It was first tried in Rwanda and has also been fully approved by the world health organization after a three year clinical and rigorous evaluation process.

Though the country’s HIV prevalence is at a low rate (3percent), the Minister of Health Dr. Agnes Binagwaho says that the method is timely and will enable the country to have a grip on the scourge by preventing more infections and enabling the infected ones to get assistance.

“This method is the first of its kind that will scale up the VMMC services and curb the rate of HIV infection in Rwanda. We will deploy it along other existing methods of prevention coupled with behavioral change initiatives,” Dr. Agnes Binagwaho said.

The minister also stated that though Rwanda has been the first country to use the method, the problem of HIV/Aids is a crosscutting issue that calls for the involvement of everyone.

She said that Rwandans have showed a lot of interest in the Prepex method despite the fact that the country is limited by resources to meet the demand.

According to the Minister, government will open up more health centers, mobilize and train more human resource to provide the services at all community levels, and also solicit the funds needed to actualize the set goals of promoting male circumcision.

Studies have showed that voluntary medical male circumcision reduces risks of heterosexually acquired HIV/AIDS infections by roughly 60 percent. In 2007, international health experts announced plans to circumcise 80 percent of male adults (20 million men) in 14 countries in south and eastern Africa- which are hit hardest by HIV.

Prepex becomes the first device for adult circumcision to receive WHO approval and according to US Global AIDS coordinator Ambassador, Eric Goosby – it is believed to be “a method that will truly save lives”.

The UNAIDS estimates that the circumcision effort would prevent 3.4 million HIV infections and it will need about $16.5 billion for the goal to be achieved.

Source: allAfrica.com


[Today, many scientific advances have been made in HIV treatment, there are laws to protect people living with HIV and we understand so much more about the condition. But despite this, people do not know the facts about how to protect themselves and others from HIV, and stigma and discrimination remain a reality for many people living with HIV. World AIDS Day is important as it reminds the public and Government that HIV has not gone away – there is still a vital need to raise money, increase awareness, fight prejudice and improve education.] (Source: www.worldaidsday.org)

Rwanda Inaugurates Butaro Ambulatory Cancer Center to Provide Comprehensive Outpatient Care


21. August

Photo: The New Times (09/07/2013)

Kigali — With the rise of non-communicable diseases like cancer, a state of the art cancer referral centre, the Butaro Cancer Centre of Excellence, was established in Butaro Hospital, Northern Province, in July 2012, to provide comprehensive care to cancer patients in Rwanda and the region. Part of the Centre now includes the Butaro Ambulatory Cancer Center (BACC), inaugurated yesterday.

BACC will provide outpatient care including chemotherapy infusion services, clinical consultation, education sessions, and multidisciplinary counseling for patients and their families. The Centre is an important part of Rwanda’s five-year plan to institute cancer prevention, screening and treatment on a national level.

“The establishment of the Butaro Ambulatory Cancer Center is an indication of government’s commitment to providing universal access for cancer treatment,” Dr Agnes Binagwaho Minister of Health speaking at the inauguration.

Dr. Paul Farmer, Co-founder of Partners in Health (PIH/IMB), which has partnered with the Ministry of Health to treat cancer in rural Rwanda since 2006, said that to reduce cancer related deaths it is important to integrate prevention, diagnosis and treatment. “The Butaro Ambulatory Cancer Center, inaugurated today will make it possible to attain this,” Dr. Paul Farmer Co-founder of Partners in Health.

Adelphine Musabyeyezu, 34, a cancer survivor from Rusizi District, who completed chemotherapy treatment at the Centre said, “I received timely treatment at the Butaro Cancer Center. I encourage my fellow women to opt for early detection as the best option.”

Since its inauguration on July 18, 2012, the Cancer Center has delivered high-quality cancer care that was previously inaccessible to those who needed it most. Over 1,000 new patients from every district in Rwanda and several neighboring countries have been registered in the oncology program since it opened.

Other registered successes include the development of endorsed national protocols for cancer care, the expansion of Butaro’s pathology lab to a national referral facility and the implementation of an electronic medical record system to support national registry inputs.

The inauguration was hosted by Burera District, the Ministry of Health, the Rwandan Biomedical Center (RBC), and Partners In Health/Inshuti Mu Buzima (PIH/IMB), in partnership with the Cummings Foundation, Dana Farber/Brigham and Women’s Cancer Center, Boston Children’s Hospital, and Harvard Medical School.

Related article:

President Clinton visits Rwanda (The New Times, 05/08/13)

Photo: Tami Hultman

Former US President Bill Clinton arrived in Rwanda last evening for a two-day visit during which he will tour several projects under the Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI) and Clinton Global Initiative project. [read more…]

Clinton Unveils New Anti-Malnutrition Drive


06. August 2013

by Eugene KWIBUKA


Former US President Bill Clinton with daughter Chelsea holding Rwandan Babies at a rural healthcare clinic in Rwinkwavu (2008).
Photo: William J. Clinton Foundation Photo Archives


The new drive, backed by the former US leader whose two-day visit to Rwanda is part of his ongoing tour of his foundation’s projects on the African continent, will see local companies supported to produce fortified food for under-five children and pregnant and lactating women. Food fortification is the practice of adding nutrients to food and drinks.

President Clinton, who visited with his daughter Chelsea, was joined by President Paul Kagame to announce the new program in Kigali.

At the launch, Presidents Clinton and Kagame said the Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI), the Government of Rwanda, and the World Food Program would work closely with the private sector, notably food producers, to combat malnutrition.

“You have the means to distribute nutritional food and to produce it,” Clinton said, pointing out that Rwanda’s 43,000 volunteer health workers are well-positioned to help distribute the children’s food across the country. “I have an enormous amount of confidence in this project because this is Rwanda and I have never seen you fail,” President Clinton said.

President Kagame said his government was “fully committed” to the nutritious food project, pledging to do everything possible to make the campaign a success. The fortified food processing program, which Clinton said will be rolled out in both Rwanda and Ethiopia, will be distributed to vulnerable infants, and pregnant and lactating women to reduce incidences of infant mortality and stunting.

Health officials say that the rate of stunting among children under the age of five in the country remains a big challenge. Statistics indicate that stunting in the country stood at 51 per cent in 2005 and 44 per cent in 2010. The Minister of Health, Dr. Agnes Binagwaho, has previously said that these figures remained “far too high”.

“Malnutrition is unacceptable in Rwanda and indeed anywhere else in the world,” Kagame said, citing other countries’ programs designed to help roll back malnutrition, including the One-Cow-per-Family scheme under which cows are donated to poor families. “The factory that will be producing the fortified nutritious food will benefit many more people in our region and will lead to the elimination of hunger and malnutrition and improved livelihoods,” he added.

The World Food Programe (WFP) pledged to buy the fortified food for its beneficiaries should Rwanda successfully produce it.

Funding local suppliers:

WFP’s regional director, Valérie Guarnieri, told journalists that the UN agency spends nearly US$150 million every year to import babies’ fortified food from Europe, funds she promised could potentially go to local suppliers should they produce the food.

Clinton and his daughter also visited a demonstration of Procter and Gamble Clinton Global Initiative water cleaning project which will deliver water cleaning technology to households in rural areas in Bugesera and Gatsibo districts, Eastern Province. They also visited a Clinton Hunter Development Initiative (CHDI) coffee roasting factory construction site in Gikondo in Kigali and the Centre Hospitalier Universitaire de Kigali (CHUK) where American health practitioners are training local counterparts under the auspices of the Clinton Health Access Initiative.

The Clintons’ African tour is covering five countries where Clinton Foundation runs several projects.

Rwanda to tackle non-communicable diseases

The Rwanda Focus

22 July 2013

by Laurent KAMANA

Photo: PBS

At the end of a two-day meet­ing on non-communicable dis­eases in Kigali last week, partic­ipants worried they had made too big a promise.

Around 150 attendees from 18 countries agreed to reduce the mortality due to non-com­municable diseases by a stag­gering 80% for people under 40 years old by the year 2020. Non-communicable diseases (NCDs) are those that are not contagious; they cannot be passed from person to person. They include auto-immune dis­eases, cancers, diabetes, and heart disease.

Health Minister Agnes Binag­waho however was confident that the target could be reached. “We must not only have clear plans but also be ambitious and optimistic on what to achieve. We cannot worry; otherwise, our people will keep on dying. We have to prevent them from dying from diseases we’re able to diagnose and treat.”

“The world doesn’t have enough ambitions. Countries like ours have to reflect on what we can do to improve the life status of our people.”

“We must not only have clear plans but also be ambitious and optimistic on what to achieve.”

The Minister referred to Rwanda’s 75% decrease in HIV, TB and malaria, leading Rwan­dans to have a longer life expec­tancy, to illustrate that an 80% reduction in non-communica­ble diseases is possible.

“We don’t come to the con­ference with a clear plan, in­stead with just a vision to do better and now we’re going to work with all sectors, because there are many deaths at work that we can avoid by better protecting people,” Binagwaho said.

Already, much has been done to deal with serious diseases like cancer as well as less seri­ous conditions. Rwanda is now able to diagnose and treat many NCDs that, in the past, claimed lives.

The Minister stressed that there is no reason why develop­ing countries should not be ad­dressing these diseases. “Africa should work on what they can do before going and seek help for what they cannot do,” she said.

An effective approach to dealing with non-communica­ble diseases requires resource mobilization, the involvement of the civil society, policy-mak­ers, the public sector, and cur­rent research on new diseases.

To many participants, the meeting came at the right mo­ment to establish a network through which health person­nel can share experiences and knowledge about policy and rules, new diseases and dedi­cated drugs, and new discover­ies.

As Minister Binagwaho stat­ed at the end of the conference, what matters more is not so much what was promised at the conference, but what par­ticipants are going to do about those promises after.

Senior UN Official Spotlights Local Sustainable Solutions for Hunger


22 July 2013

Photo: WFP

Visiting Rwanda, the head of the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) highlighted approaches to end food insecurity in Africa that support local initiatives, long-term development and sustainability.

“Here in Rwanda, WFP is providing the life-saving food assistance that we are known for to tens of thousands of refugees, but we and our partners are also supporting community-based agriculture and livelihoods projects that assist the poorest and most vulnerable Rwandans as they build a brighter future for their families,” said the agency’s Executive Director, Ertharin Cousin, at the end of her three-day visit to the country.

“When speaking with small-scale farmers and rural families, I could see very clearly the difference that rural development initiatives have made in helping people improve their lives.”

Ms. Cousin said the progress made on development in Rwanda illustrates the importance of close and effective partnerships between UN agencies, communities and government in helping in empowering people to lift themselves out of poverty.

“I met one woman farmer who started with nearly nothing, and now has become so successful that she’s been able to build her family a new house, and put her children though school,” said Ms. Cousin, who also met with displaced persons and refugees on both side of the border shared by Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

During her visit, Ms. Cousin also visited the Nkamira refugee transit centre and a successful terracing and watershed management project in Rulindo district, in northern Rwanda. She also visited and spoke with farmers in eastern Rwanda who belong to an agricultural cooperative in Kirehe district through which they are selling their surplus maize and beans to WFP via the Purchase for Progress initiative, known as “P4P”.

P4P aims to use WFP’s purchasing power to help connect smallholder farmers to markets. In Rwanda, the programme has grown from a WFP project into a national initiative, boosting productivity and improving the lives and livelihoods of small-scale farmers.

Since 2011, WFP has purchased 33,000 metric tons of combined food commodities – maize and beans – worth $15.5 million, through a combination of P4P purchases and regular food procurement.

WFP and the Rwandan Government are also exploring ways to link the P4P programme to food-for-education initiatives, providing students with a daily school meal grown in their own communities and turn schools into regular customers for local farmers.

This was Ms. Cousin’s first visit to Rwanda as WFP Executive Director. While in the country, she also met with top Government officials, including Prime Minister Pierre Damien Habumuremyi, and with the heads of UN agencies in Rwanda.

More about the Purchase for Progress (P4P) Project

Connecting farmers to markets

As the world’s largest humanitarian agency, WFP is a major buyer of staple food. In 2012, WFP bought US$1.1 billion worth of food – more than 75 percent of this in developing countries. With the Purchase the Progress (P4P) initiative, WFP is taking this one step further. P4P uses WFP’s purchasing power and its expertise in logistics and food quality to offer smallholder farmers opportunities to access agricultural markets, to become competitive players in those markets and thus to improve their lives.

The five-year pilot initiative links WFP’s demand for staple food in 20 countries with the expertise of a host of partners who support farmers to produce food surpluses and sell them at a fair price. By 2013, at least half a million smallholder farmers will have increased and improved their agricultural production and earnings. By raising farmers’ incomes, P4P turns WFP’s local procurement into a vital tool to address hunger. Learn more

Source: allafrica.com, WFP

Looks at Contraceptive Use in Rwanda

The Guttmacher Institute

(New York, NY)


Pregnant Ladies (file photo):
47 percent of all pregnancies in the country are unintended. (IRIN/Felicity Thompson)

30. April 2013

New York, Ny — Findings from the first national study on the incidence of unintended pregnancy and abortion in Rwanda show that nearly half (47%) of all pregnancies in the country are unintended. The report, “Unintended Pregnancy and Induced Abortion in Rwanda: Causes and Consequences,” was issued by the National University of Rwanda School of Public Health (NURSPH) and the Guttmacher Institute, which jointly conducted the study.

These unintended pregnancies are occurring despite the county’s remarkable progress in increasing contraceptive use over the last decade. In 2010, 44% of married or cohabiting Rwandan women were using a modern method of contraception, compared with just 4% in 2000. However, the increase in contraceptive use has not kept pace with the growing desire for smaller families and does not extend to the increasing proportion of unmarried young women who are sexually active.

In 2010, an estimated 19% of married women (250,000) and 56% of unmarried sexually active women 15-29 years old (40,000) had an unmet need for contraception–they wanted to avoid pregnancy but were not using a contraceptive method.

The findings were presented in Kigali on March 23 at a Family Planning Day event organized by NURSPH. The event brought together key stakeholders, including Ministry of Health officials, UN representatives, leading NGOs working on health issues and reproductive health advocates, who reviewed the most recent evidence on unintended pregnancy and unsafe abortion and developed a set of policy recommendations to better address the reproductive health needs of Rwandan women. Among these recommendations were expanding provision of postabortion care; making emergency contraception widely available throughout the country; better integrating family planning services and postabortion care; and educating women and medical and law-enforcement professionals about the conditions under which abortion is legal in Rwanda.

“The study’s findings indicate that Rwanda must build on the strong progress made over the last decade and further strengthen its family planning policies and programs,” said Paulin Basinga, formerly with NURSPH and lead author of the report. “Expanding the range of contraceptive options available to women and targeting those women who are at highest risk of unintended pregnancy are especially important if we are to reduce the rate of unplanned pregnancies in the country.”

The researchers found that approximately 22% of all unintended pregnancies end in induced abortion. Rwanda’s abortion rate–25 per 1,000 women of reproductive age–is significantly lower than that of Eastern Africa (38 per 1,000), and lower than that for the African continent as a whole (29 per 1000). Although the abortion rate is relatively low, abortion still places a heavy burden on Rwandan women and the health care system because virtually all abortions occur outside of the formal health system where safety cannot be assured.

In 2009, 24,000 of the approximately 60,000 women who had an abortion suffered complications that required medical treatment. Of these, just 17,000 received adequate treatment in a health facility; thus, 30% of the women who needed care did not receive it. According to the study, this was most likely a result of insufficient access to postabortion care and reluctance on the part of women to seek treatment, which could potentially expose them to harsh judgment or even prosecution for engaging in a stigmatized and illegal act.

Poor Rwandan women, in urban and rural areas, are far more likely to experience complications (54-55%) than wealthier women in both rural (38%) and urban areas (20%). According to experts surveyed, poor women are most likely to self-induce or rely on untrained providers such as traditional healers. Abortions from these sources have the highest estimated rate of complications–61-67%.

“The Rwandan government has already started to take action to improve access to postabortion care and we hope these findings provide further guidance on how to strengthen efforts to ensure that all Rwandan women receive the care they need,” said co-author Ann Moore of the Guttmacher Institute.

Rwanda Looks to Eradicate Malaria

Photo: Tami Hultman/AllAfrica : Child receiving treatment for malaria (file photo)

A two-day mass mosquito net distribution exercise by the Ministry of Health and the Global Fund ended on Wednesday at Byumba Health Centre in Gicumbi District, with bed nets worth US $10.2 million (about Rwf6.3bn) given out. Over 1.7 million children under five years received the nets.

The mosquito nets were distributed to district officials in 2,300 sites countrywide where they were later distributed to the children.

The Demographic Health Survey conducted in 2010, indicates that malaria prevalence has decreased from 2.6 per cent in 2008 to 1.4 per cent in 2010 in children under five and from 1.4 per cent in 2008 to 0.7 per cent in 2010 in pregnant women.

Speaking at the event, Dr Corine Kalema, the head of Division, Malaria and Other Parasitic Diseases at Rwanda Biomedical Centre (RBC), said, mosquito nets use is one of the more effective ways of combating malaria.

“In 2008, malaria was the topmost killer disease in Rwanda, but results have shown that now it is the eighth. Our aim is to eradicate it completely from the list of killer diseases in Rwanda,” she said.

The Minister of Health, Dr. Agnes Binagwaho, urged residents to embrace the use of the nets to kick out malaria infection among children. She inspected some of the patients’ wards and demonstrated the proper way of hanging and adjusting a mosquito net.

Gicumbi, Nyagatare and Bugesera are said to be among the districts with a high transmission rate of malaria in Rwanda. The districts received mosquito nets to be distributed to families other than children.

According to Dr. Kalema, this was to reduce the high levels of malaria transmission in these districts. She explained that the campaign targeted children under five because this age group is the most vulnerable.

“Their white blood cells are not as strong with regard to defending the body as they are for adults,” she said.

One mother, Suzanne Umugwaneza, was all smiles after receiving a mosquito net for her daughter.

“I am so pleased that my daughter, Isabella Benita, has received this mosquito net. I will not worry about her getting malaria anymore,” said Umugwaneza.

Another beneficiary, Espe Nyirabatunzi, remarked that had it not been for the government, the mosquito net was out of reach for her young ones.

This campaign comes days after the African Leaders Malaria Alliance awarded Rwanda with two anti-Malaria awards in the categories of ‘Policy’ and ‘Impact and Implementation.’

The rate of malaria cases treated after laboratory confirmation was 96 per cent in 2011.

Related article:

Government Launches Mass Distribution of Mosquito Nets

Source: BY GRACE GATERA, 1 FEBRUARY 2013, The New Times

Who Is Still Having Unprotected Sex in This Day and Age?

“Sometimes I end up having sex without protection. Sometimes, some of the clients with a lot of money prefer sex without protection”- Chantal, sex worker

Those are the words I read yesterday morning, recoiling in horror. ‘HIV infection at 51 percent among sex workers’, an article in The New Times stated. This statistic, put forward by the Rwanda Biomedical Centre, is extremely scary especially when compared to the countrywide HIV rate of three percent, according to the 2010 Demographic Health Survey. Someone is obviously infecting and getting infected by these sex workers. So, two questions must be asked; why are sex workers risking their lives by discarding condom use and why are the clients choosing to risk their lives just so they can go in ‘live’?

While I totally understand why sex workers, plagued by poverty and destitution, play Russian roulette with their lives, I can’t, for the life of me, understand why their clients do the same. Are all these men (and women) already HIV positive, and therefore uncaring of what happens to them as a result? I doubt that. Therefore, we have a significant number of Rwandans, simply throwing away their lives for a few minutes pleasure.

Which then makes me wonder, are these people all crazy OR is the anti-HIV message somehow being lost in translation? If it’s the former, then there is nothing that we can do, after all, they are adults. However, if it is the latter, we all have a responsibility to educate and influence a behavioral change.

For one to prove just how precarious our anti-HIV drive is, all you have to do is look north, to Uganda. Along with Chad, Uganda is the only country in Africa where HIV prevalence is increasing. This, despite the fact that Uganda was at the forefront of the HIV fight less than a decade ago. While there is more than one explanation for this, a major cause of this is the prevailing blasé attitude towards this pandemic.

Frank Matsiko, a counsellor with the Ugandan NGO Integrated Community Based Initiatives, told Think Africa Press that “some people – especially those who are not well sensitised – have relaxed and taken it for granted that one can have HIV and go on treatment and stay as long as he (or she) wants.”

The ‘relaxed attitude’ issue is extremely pertinent here in this country, more so because Anti-Retroviral Treatment (ART) is free. While our HIV rates are low, we must not take our eyes off the ball. In just seven years, Uganda’s HIV rate has increased from 6.4 % in 2005 to 7.3% today.

Must our leaders be angels?

I’ve watched the General David Patraeus imbroglio with a lot of amusement, and a bit of bewilderment as well. The former head of the CIA and decorated army man, had an affair with Paula Broadwell, cheating on his wife of 38 years. Throw in the fact that it seems that the good general was also seeing someone else on the side as well, and we have a good ol’ scandal on our hands. While I cannot condone marital infidelity, I really cannot be bothered about what an official does in his spare time. Oh course the media jumped on the story, and why not? It is juicy and has attractive protagonists. However, should a man have lost his job? Not in my opinion. There has to be a clear divide on what is private and what is public.

In this case, the infidelity was a matter between his wife and himself and I’m of the opinion that the US President shouldn’t have accepted his resignation. After all, as a wise man once said, “he without sin, cast the first stone”.



Related articles:

HIV Infection At 51 Percent Among Sex Workers

At least 51 percent of sex workers in Rwanda are infected with HIV, according to the latest report by the Rwanda Biomedical Centre (RBC). [… read more]

Source: SUNNY NTAYOMBYA, 13 NOVEMBER 2012, The New Times, allAfrica.com