Inside Rwanda’s remarkable health infrastructure development

By Théophile Niyitegeka
On 20 June 2023 at 07:10

Accessing healthcare services in Rwanda has undergone a significant transformation with the development of modern hospitals across the country. Prior to these advancements, some residents faced challenges in receiving adequate medical treatment, often resorting to seeking services in neighboring Uganda to avoid long queues over limited facilities. However, thanks to the government’s commitment to improving healthcare infrastructure, individuals like Augustin Hatumimana from Nyagatare District and Isaïe Byamungu from Gakenke District now have easier access to medical care closer to their homes.

Hatumimana, a resident of Akimpundu Village, Gikundavura Cell, Karama Sector, Nyagatare District, has expressed his gratitude for the construction of Gatunda Hospital in Nyamikamba of Gatunda Sector. Previously, Hatumimana had to travel long distances to seek medical treatment, but now he can access quality healthcare services at the nearby hospital.

Similar sentiments were echoed by Isaïe Byamungu from Gashama Cell, Janja Sector in Gakenke District. He highlighted the scarcity of healthcare facilities in the area, with only Gatonde and Janja health facilities available. Byamungu shared his experience of the high costs of motorbike transport to Nemba Hospital, where his wife had given birth to four of their children. The establishment of modern hospitals at the district level has relieved the burden on residents like Byamungu, ensuring they can receive medical care without the need for arduous journeys.

The impact of these health infrastructure developments extends beyond Gatunda and Gatonde.

Residents from Munini in Nyaruguru and Shyira in Nyabihu, as well as other parts of the country, also express their gratitude for the improved proximity of healthcare facilities. President Paul Kagame, during his outreach visits, listened to citizens’ concerns and responded to their demands for increased infrastructure development, particularly in the health sector.

Gatonde District Hospital in Gakenke District was completed in April 2021 at a cost of Rwf 2.8 billion. Construction of the facility began in May 2017. Similarly, Gatunda District Hospital in Nyagatare District, located in Gatunda Sector, was completed in 2020, costing Rwf 4.3 billion.

Munini Hospital in Nyaruguru District, which underwent significant upgrades from 2019 onwards, was completed in 2021 at a cost of over Rwf 9 billion. Nyabikenke Hospital, a gift from President Kagame to the residents of Ndiza in Kiyumba Sector, was built with an allocated budget of Rwf 7 billion.

According to Rwanda Housing Authority (RHA), the government allocated a total budget of Rwf 137.2 billion for the construction of state-of-the-art hospitals throughout the country.

The development of these medical infrastructures has had a profound impact on the lives of residents. The days of walking long distances to receive medical treatment are now behind them.

These modern hospitals offer a wide range of services, including pediatrics, obstetrics, surgery, specialized dental care, eye care, orthopedics, HIV/AIDS patient care, and more.

Residents who have experienced the improvements in healthcare services express their heartfelt gratitude to President Paul Kagame for positively transforming their lives. Josiane Mukakarangwa from Gakenke District emphasizes the challenges faced before the hospital’s construction, particularly during childbirth emergencies. She appreciates the President’s support, which has improved access to timely medical assistance.

Claudine Mukandayishimiye from Muhanga District acknowledges the government’s efforts in overcoming the difficulties faced in reaching Kabgayi Hospital. She expresses her gratitude for the improved accessibility to quality healthcare services.

Olive Niyonteze, born in Rusenge Sector, Nyaruguru District, emphasizes the cleanliness and attentive care provided at the newly constructed hospitals. She describes the hygienic conditions, clean bedsheets, and regular visits from medical staff, ensuring that patients receive the necessary attention and care. Niyonteze expresses her relief that critically ill children no longer have to suffer without assistance, thanks to the improved healthcare services.

Francine Nyiransabimana from Rukomo Sector, Nyagatare District, shares her experience of the overcrowded Nyagatare Hospital, where many patients faced difficulties in receiving timely surgeries due to the high volume of patients. She expresses her gratitude for the newly built hospital, recounting how she arrived early in the morning and had already completed her examinations and radiography without delays, highlighting the efficiency and effectiveness of the healthcare services provided.

Augustin Hatumimana from Karama Sector in Nyagatare District also expresses his appreciation for the proximity of healthcare facilities, eliminating the need to travel to Uganda for medical treatment.

He acknowledges the positive impact of the hospitals, stating that there is no longer any reason to seek treatment outside Rwanda.

In addition to the remarkable developments in healthcare infrastructure upcountry, Kigali City has also witnessed significant improvements. Recently, a high-level hospital was completed in Nyarugenge District, addressing the challenges faced by residents in accessing fast and efficient healthcare services. This new hospital complements existing facilities in the district, such as Muhima Hospital, which specializes in maternal care.

It is also worth mentioning that the construction for the headquarters of the African hub of the Research Institute against Digestive Cancer (IRCAD) is underway in Masaka, Kigali City. IRCAD is a renowned French institute dedicated to advancing and teaching minimally invasive surgery, particularly for gastric cancer. The construction of IRCAD Africa is at 79% completion, and it is expected to enhance the medical capabilities in the region.

Moreover, plans are in place to expand Masaka Hospital, where Prime Minister Dr. Ngirente Edouard officiated the groundbreaking ceremony for the renovation and expansion project on Thursday 30th March 2023. The project, currently at 18.25% completion, is supported by the People’s Republic of China.

The expanded Masaka Hospital will be used to house the Kigali University Teaching Hospital (CHUK), with increased capacity to accommodate 2,000 patients per day and a total of 837 beds. It will also feature specialized departments such as emergency, pediatric, and infectious departments, as well as modern technological facilities such as the Air compressor room, Oxygen Generator Station, radiology department, blood bank, laboratory department, and ultrasound and functional examination rooms.

The developments in Rwanda’s health infrastructure demonstrate the government’s commitment to improving access to quality healthcare services for its citizens. Through significant investments and construction projects, the country has witnessed remarkable progress in healthcare delivery, resulting in improved medical care, reduced travel distances, and increased efficiency in treating patients.

A healthcare practitioner attending to a patient at Gatonde Hospital.
Munini Hospital is located in Nyaruguru District.
Nyarugenge District Hospital was among eagerly awaited health facilities.
The construction of IRCAD Africa hub in Rwanda has reached advanced stage.