Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The Role of King Faisal Hospital Today

I wrote the following blog post, "The Role of King Faisal Hospital Today," in 2007. I am sharing it on my new blog as it has not been previously published, but some of the information is out-of-date. It does accurately describe the vision of the Ministry of Health for King Faisal Hospital and its role in our health system. 

All sectors of the Rwandan Government are dedicating substantial efforts to achieving our national development objectives. Together with the support of partners from around the world, the Government has strived to endow the country with innovative tools and programs that aim to make the necessary changes in the health sector to enlarge the range of quality services given to the population.  The programs in question are complementary and have specific objectives. Through this support, Community-Based Health Insurance, RAMA, the decentralization of sanitary systems, the equipment of district hospitals, referral hospitals, and King Faisal Hospital in Kigali have become essential pillars of the development plan of the health sector.  

Among the health sector’s various achievements, one of the most impressive is that more than one million Rwandans now have community-based health insurance and all Rwandan civil servants are now covered by RAMA as of late 2007. Among other resources available to public programs, we now have substantial funds for the fight against HIV/AIDS that are being used to control the epidemic in a way that builds the national health sector, as well as funds for new equipment in district hospitals, referral hospitals, and health centers across the country. These achievements have benefited the whole population.

At the same time, thanks to the Government's advocacy in negotiating with partners across many continents, King Faisal Hospital has increased its capacity to provide services to the country’s sick. King Faisal Hospital can now offer very specialized abdominal surgery by laparoscopy as well as other state-of-the-art technology in orthopedics, orthodontic care, and ophthalmology services. More specialties will continue to join the array of services offered on a regular basis.

Beyond this immediate improvement in the spectrum of available services, King Faisal Hospital has a mission of training that aims to assure capacity building of Rwanda’s medical students, general practitioners, and specialists.  With the support of the Ministry of Health and the United Nations Development Program, the hospital now has a telemedicine center that allows exchanges and continuing education programs through linking King Faisal to teaching hospitals around the world. Our population, our medical students, and our physicians are increasingly benefiting from it. Other strong partnerships have been created to allow cardiac catheterization and open heart surgery, treatments usually outside of the financial means of most Rwandans. Now, thanks to solidarity on the part of Australian, American, and Belgian physicians who come on surgical and capacity-building trips, the average Rwandan can benefit from these services at King Faisal Hospital. 

Thanks to Community-Based Health Insurance, RAMA, and the Ministry of Health’s national referral system, patients referred through the normal process can receive specialized care offered King Faisal at costs comparable to care offered at CHUK. A patient is generally referred from a health center to a district hospital to a referral hospital if necessary. These referral hospitals can then refer to King Faisal Hospital for care that is not available elsewhere. In the case of severe medical emergencies, a patient can be referred directly to King Faisal Hospital without progressing through the standard tiered referral process. 

Referral to King Faisal Hospital is free for the poorest Rwanda if they have the requisite administrative documents from ubudehe. As a result of this social justice-based access policy, the more King Faisal Hospital has high-level quality and varied care, the better the Rwandan population will be taken care of. King Faisal Hospital also allows our tourists or our investors who spend time in Rwanda to be assured that they will have access to high-quality health care should the need arise. This is a great way to attract and retain investors.

We have a long way to go, but the Government along with its partners has put in place a system so that all can receive affordable and quality care, even for the poorest citizens because the Government pays for them.  Rwanda has a national goal of becoming a middle-income country within the coming decades. Therefore, it is essential to sustain efforts to assure access to high-quality health care to all.