Yale Trains Rwandan Health Workers Through 7-Year Program

In 2012, Yale and other academic medical centres from the US joined the Human Resources for Health Program (HRH), under the Rwandan Ministry of Health, to improve the country’s medical resources and increase the number of medical staff while improving their skills.

The 7-year HRH program concentrated on nursing, medicine, health management, and dentistry. The program was led by the Rwandan government and funded by Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief through Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

According to an article on Yale News, Adam Gaber says, “Since HRH began, the U.S. medical centers have sent about 99 faculty to Rwanda each year to support 22 training programs. Those programs expect to graduate more than 4,600 students by next year. By the end of the program’s seventh year, an estimated 300 physicians will have received training in 13 medical specialties. And, since the program’s inception, the number of medical students enrolled in the medical school, which until 2010 graduated about 100 students each year, has doubled.”

One of the HRH beneficiaries, Grace Igiraneza, is in a year-long fellowship in nephrology at the Yale New Haven Hospital.  Therefore, when she returns to her position as the head of dialysis at a teaching hospital in Kigali, she will have the necessary skills to give her patients better care and to better train the residents at the hospital.

“I needed more training to lead that service,” she said. “It is my obligation to give back what I have been given.

The HRH program was part of efforts in 2000 to put together the health system in the country after the genocide. Since then, life expectancy increased from 48 to 63 years while most Rwandans have acquired health insurance. However, the country is yet to meet the recommended number of physicians, midwives, and nurses per 1,000 population.

Yale has helped create residency programs at the National University of Rwanda and its teaching hospitals, has trained Rwandan faculty at New Haven, and has helped develop a master’s program in hospital and health administration at the School of Public Health in the Rwanda University.

“Yale has been involved in this innovative and ambitious project from the beginning and many graduates of these programs are now employed to work as faculty in the teaching hospitals as well as in district and provincial hospitals. It has had a significant impact on training and medicine throughout Rwanda,” Dr Asghar Rastegar, director of the Office of Global Health, Yale School of Medicine said.