KIGALI HEALTH INSTITUTE: A RESPONSE TO RWANDA’S HEALTH DELIVERY CHALLENGES
The shortage of some health workers that Rwanda has faced in the last decade or so is largely traced to the 1994 genocide against Tutsi. Many health professionals were killed while others fled the country. Consequently, post genocide era has had a critical doctor/patient ratio. The sector considerably depended on volunteer organizations. To respond to these challenges, the ministry vowed to transform Rwanda’s health sector through their main goal which is to provide and continually improve the health services of the Rwandans through the provision of preventive, curative and rehabilitative healthcare. This goal has been in line with the streamlined strategies set by the government in order to reduce poverty and to enhance the well being of the population incorporated in vision 2020 and Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper.
It was against this background that government sought to transform the health sector through developing human resources professionals in the field of health and strengthening national referral hospitals, treatment and research centers led to the birth of Kigali Health Institute on June 5, 1996.
In its early foundation, the Institute had three departments which are general nursing, anesthesia and physiotherapy with a total enrollment of 98 students. By then, the institute was offering advanced diplomas only. Gradually, with the support of the government of Unity and different donor institutions, new programs were introduced and the number of departments increased to ten. Also, some of the programs namely Nursing Sciences, Physiotherapy, Biomedical laboratory sciences, Anesthesia, Dental therapy and Environmental health sciences were upgraded to the Bachelor’s Degree.
As a response to the government’s call to revolutionize the service sector, KHI has embarked on various strategies that will see service delivery taken to another level. The graduates of the institute are a living testimony to their efforts to transform the health sector
Sixteen years after its establishment, Kigali Health Institute has made impressive strides in training efficient health professional for Rwanda. So far the institute has graduated over 3000 students ranging from nurses, dentists, laboratory technicians, radiologists, anesthetist technician, psychiatric nurses, physiotherapists, midwives, Ophthalmic clinical officers and environmental health professionals.
The Institute has made significant achievement in upgrading the advanced diploma level to full bachelor’s degree in dental therapy, physiotherapy, general nursing, biomedical laboratory sciences, medical imaging sciences and environmental health sciences. Also introduced, is a post graduate professional certificate in counseling in partnership with The Regional Aids Training Network (RATN) which fights the HIV/AIDS pandemic through creating capacities in different institutions with Kenya Association of Professional Counselors. The institute has also developed a Master’s Program in Critical Care and Trauma Nursing, and recently the Master degree in Health Informatics has been started. Likewise, in order to meet the urgent need for need for primary healthcare particularly in the rural areas a new Bachelor’s degree program in Clinical Medicine and Community Health along with Bachelor’s degree in Human Nutrition and Dietetics commenced in the academic year 2011/2012. The Orthopedic technology program has also recently started to cutter for great need for orthotics and prosthetics in Rwanda.
With support of partners, a dental skills laboratory and a dental clinic were established whereby KHI trainees have been able to do practical training using dummies before starting to deal with patients. Other clinics and services created include physiotherapy clinic and the Medical laboratory both of which offer services to the public and training facilities to the students,
Apart from training, most of these programs have research, consultancies services, and outreach activities that fall within the KHI mandate in responding to healthcare challenges Rwanda is facing. Having considered the achievements made, KHI has recently been awarded as the “Best healthcare educational institute in Africa 2011” in a ceremony that took place in Mauritius on 14th December 2011 by the World Education Congress & Asian Confederation of Businesses. Specifically, the institute was recognized for its innovation, academic and leadership model as well as the supreme objective of training healthcare professionals at the international standards.
Despite the institute’s achievements, KHI plans to turn its challenges into opportunities by increasing the capacity of the faculty through further training and research mentorship, introducing new programs as well as short courses to cater for the needs of the practitioners to engage in continuous professional. It is envisage with these endeavors, KHI shall be generate considerable income in order to reduce the budget deficit. Effort are made to attract more development partners to engage in academic human resources development, research and quality assurance of healthcare services.