How RDF’s field hospital contributes to improved healthcare in Cabo Delgado

By Zaninka Umutesi
On 5 October 2022 at 12:31

In July last year, Rwanda started the deployment of 1000 troops of the Rwanda Defence Force (RDF) and the Rwanda National Police (RNP) to Mozambique to fight terrorist groups, honoring the request of Mozambique. The troops had increased to nearly 2000 by the end of the year 2021.

The situation in the country had worsened since October 2017 when armed extremists launched an insurgency in the Cabo Delgado Province of Mozambique.

Mozambique Defence Armed Forces battled the extremists but many civilians were killed and displaced by the fighting.

Before Rwandan troop’s intervention, terrorists had killed 3000 civilians while more than 800,000 were displaced. The insecurity had also put to halt all development projects in the area controlled by insurgents.

The joint operations between Rwandan and Mozambican troops yielded big where different regions were seized from rebels.

Rwandan Security Forces in Cabo Delgado are mainly renowned for bravery to quell terrorists but there many more areas in which they have intervened to ensure protected citizens have sound health.

In Rwanda, security forces are not only responsible for maintaining security and order but also involved in other areas of national development like health, education and construction among others.

This aspect was also considered during the deployment of troops in Cabo Delgado.

They were deployed along with colleagues from the medical regiment so that the Mozambicans in the war-torn areas, get medical care quickly.

IGIHE recently visited the field hospital of Rwanda Security Forces in Cabo Delgado, which serves as the referral health facility in the area for Rwandan, Mozambican troops and civilians as well.

It offers all the services one would access at a Rwandan hospitals including examination, medication, surgery, laboratories, a sickbay and more.

Major Dr. Jean Paul Shumbusho, the Head of Medical Services in Rwanda Security Forces deployed in Cabo Delgado, spoke to IGIHE a day after they started providing medical care to residents living far from the hospital.

Dr. Shumbusho said that they frequently conduct medical outreach programs because Cabo Delgado is a large province with a limited number of health facilities.

“We draw special emphasis on areas where most of the population has already returned but are still far from the roads and towns where they cannot access healthcare easily.

Those are the ones we often target to reduce long and exhausting daily walks and provide basic care as much as we can. Those who have not been treated are facilitated to reach the main hospital so that they can be properly treated," he noted.

The Rwandan Security Forces offer treatment for free while the Government of Rwanda caters for the cost of equipment and medicines.

“We treat the people for free from the time we receive them, give them medicines, feed and clothe them until they go home, all free of charge. The cost is high but not as much as a person’s life," said Dr. Shumbusho.

The hospital receives between 250 and 400 patients per month, excluding those treated in medical outreach activities. Among those treated, at least 35 underwent surgery.

Dr. Shumbusho said that Malaria comes first among the diseases affecting the residents of Cabo Delgado.

It can be linked to the fact that it is a province of mostly tropical forests, with low land near the sea.

"Malaria is the first disease that we frequently treat here. It is severe malaria that kills some patients if they do not get treatment on time, especially young children and pregnant women. That is why we focus on providing them with medicine, and educate them on prevention," revealed Dr. Shumbusho.

As a war-tone area for four years, malnutrition-related diseases especially among young children are among the most common ones. It also stems from the fact that there is not much sanitation infrastructure in place.

Dr. Shumbusho said war-related diseases including trauma, emotional and physical injuries are among major problems.

"There are still many injuries, there are still many incidents related to explosive remnants of war and many people without this protection,"

Men are affected by orchitis

Dr. Shumbusho said that the majority of patients getting surgery are men who are suffering from orchitis, due to the nature of the area where they live.

Orchitis is the leakage of fluid between the two skins that cover the testicles. When there is water between them, whether it is more or less, it is called orchitis.

"We mostly conduct surgery for male reproductive health related diseases because they live in an area with several water bodies. There are parasitic worms that enter people’s bodies and reside in the men’s private parts because they don’t wear shoes or other protections. Those are the ones that require surgery the most. About 50% of the men coming to this facility suffer from such conditions," affirmed Dr. Shumbusho.

The healthcare services provided by the Rwandan Security Forces to the residents of Cabo Delgado have been extremely appreciated that some mothers requested that their children be given Rwandan names after delivery.

“There are children we gave Rwandan names at the request of their parents as an appreciation to medical assistance offered to them. These include Ntwali, Mahirwe and Nkotanyi among others,” revealed Dr. Shumbusho.

Apart from treating patients, Rwandan Security Forces also provide support to other health facilities with shortage of medicines in Cabo Delgado.

The hospital admits patients in critical conditions.
The hospital has a store with enough medical equipment and medicines.
The RDF's field hospital in Cabo Delgado has enough equipment for diagnosis of diseases.
Maj Dr. Shumbusho (left) revealed that residents of Cabo Delgado appreciate healthcare services offered to them.