UAE-driven initiative improves healthcare for rural Rwandans

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More than 80% of Rwanda’s population lives in rural areas where the mountainous terrain makes accessing distant health facilities a true challenge…reports Asian Lite News

Continuing to extend its support to rural communities in Africa, Beyond2020, the UAE-driven humanitarian initiative, has recently reached Rwanda offering critical access to healthcare services to a rural population of 20,000 people. The deployment aims to bring sustainable and affordable primary care to Rwanda’s Nyaruguru and Rubavu districts, which lag behind the rest of the country in terms of health access and outcomes.

Following in the footsteps of the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, Beyond2020 – launched by the Zayed Sustainability Prize in partnership with several leading organisations – aims to further his humanitarian legacy by donating sustainable technologies and solutions to vulnerable communities around the world. Rwanda marks the 11th deployment of the initiative, which will continue to offer life-transforming interventions to a broader number of beneficiaries worldwide, providing tech for good and fostering development that is inclusive and sustainable.

UAE-driven initiative improves healthcare for rural Rwandans

Hazza Mohammed Al Qahtani, UAE Ambassador to Rwanda, said, “The UAE is proud to support critical access to healthcare in Rwanda through its humanitarian initiative, Beyond2020. Responding to the COVID-19 pandemic has been the greatest test for healthcare globally. Expanding access to robust and resilient healthcare systems is of pivotal importance in managing the post-COVID-19 recovery, especially when it comes to overcoming service disruptions.”

Al Qahtan added, “In recognition of the UAE’s Golden Jubilee, the nation is now driving forward its 10 Principles for the next 50 years under the guidance and directives of the UAE’s wise leadership. One of the principles prioritises foreign humanitarian aid as an essential part of the UAE’s vision, inspired by the ambitions of our Founding Father, the late Sheikh Zayed, to help international communities achieve sustainable economic and social development.”

Emmanuel Hategeka, Rwanda’s Ambassador to the UAE said, “Universal access to health care is one of Rwanda’s top priorities. We value the intervention by Beyond2020 and its partners which aligns directly with the Rwanda Government’s ongoing efforts to increase access to a more modern and world-class health apparatus for its people.”

Known as the land of 1,000 hills, more than 80% of Rwanda’s population lives in rural areas where the mountainous terrain makes accessing distant health facilities a true challenge. While Rwanda is recognised globally as a leader in improving health services through its successful adoption of Universal Health Coverage (UHC), community access to primary care remains a barrier to continued progress. With poor access causing people to seek healthcare later and less often, preventable, and treatable illnesses can become life-threatening in remote rural settings.

Reducing the distance between patients and health centres can significantly increase the use of health services and improve key health outcomes. Identifying rural access to healthcare as a priority, Rwanda’s Ministry of Health (MoH) has signed a public-private partnership agreement with One Family Health (OFH), a leading global non-profit organisation and a Zayed Sustainability Prize 2020 finalist under the ‘Health’ category, to establish 500 clinics in rural communities and 156 clinics have already been opened to date.

The clinics operate on a mobile health system (mHealth) that enables nurses to manage service data and patient records electronically allowing for more efficient clinic operations. One Family Health leverages contributions from multiple government agencies and private partners and harnesses entrepreneurial principles to deliver primary care through franchised clinics in underserved areas. The franchised clinics provide an opportunity to experienced nurses to become entrepreneurs, while offering basic preventive and curative primary care services that address the key drivers of community illness, such as acute respiratory infections, malaria, and diarrheal disease.

As the international community prepares to take stock of climate action efforts against the backdrop of national and regional recovery plans, the expanded humanitarian outreach of Beyond2020 continues to be crucial in alleviating the challenges of some of the world’s most vulnerable communities.

Mohammed Saif Al Suwaidi, Director General of Abu Dhabi Fund for Development (ADFD), a partner of the initiative said, “The Beyond2020 initiative directly aligns with ADFD’s mission to provide strategic financial support and other tools that help strengthen capacity and build self-sufficiency for developing countries to achieve high priority economic and social development objectives while advancing UN Sustainable Development Goals. This new project in Rwanda is an excellent example of the tangible impacts on people’s lives by giving them access to universal healthcare through medical clinics in rural communities.”

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Through this deployment, four clinics have been established in disadvantaged communities, while four nurses have been empowered and trained in business management and 12 new jobs have been created to support operations across the four businesses. The clinics also provide direct surveillance, screening, and referral of any suspected cases of COVID-19 or other emerging epidemics.

As part of the initiative’s impact to-date, a total of ten deployments have been rolled out, including energy, health, water and food-related solutions in Nepal, Tanzania, Uganda, Jordan, Egypt, Cambodia, Madagascar, Indonesia, Bangladesh and the Philippines. In addition to Rwanda, another 9 countries have been identified as deployment grounds going forward.

Beyond2020 brings together a leading number of partners which include Abu Dhabi Fund for Development, Mubadala Petroleum and Masdar.