The Ministry of Health has proposed a draft bill on the use of human organs, tissues, and cells, that will allow Rwandans of 18 years to donate these vital organs.
The purpose of the law is to establish legislation for transplant surgery services and teaching programs for fellowship.
This will help patients who go abroad to seek kidney and liver transplants and other transplants services.
Minister of Health, Dr. Daniel Ngamije presented the bill to the Chamber of Deputies this October 19, 2022- a session that was also attended by a delegation of Nigerian and Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) MPs.
The law regulating therapeutic, educational, and scientific utilization of organs and products of the human body was gazetted in 2010 and revised in 2018.
Ngamije said that with recent developments and experiences in the health sector, there were cases that compelled the ministry to propose some changes in the existing laws and regulations.
For instance, Ngamije said that this year, in preparation for the launch of a kidney transplant program in King Faisal Hospital, during the analysis of the law (mentioned above), there have been issues related to confidentiality where it was stated that the donor and the recipient are prohibited to know each other due to the functioning of the health facility.
“Rather due to the nature of the transplant, it is better and practical for donors and receivers to know each other,” Ngamije said.
He added that the required age for donors of organs, tissues, and products of the human body was 21 years and the general practice globally, the minimum age for donors is 18 years.
He cited a gap in that law for who shall cover the cost for health services rendered to the donors.
“It has been necessary to change the whole law to include rules governing the utilization of the human body and the products of the human body as is the case today,” he said.
The minister stated that this new law will help in achieving the national goal to be a regional hub of medical services.
He also noted that once approved and passed in the Parliament, King Faisal Hospital would start kidney transplant by February 2023.
Lack of such services has seen Rwanda, in the last seven years, send 67 patients for kidney transplants abroad, where it costs $12,000 per patient or $804,000 in total.
The 32-article bill raised debate among MPs who mostly wanted clarity on many aspects of personal and national benefits, security, and legal implications, but approved it for further debate in the committee sessions ahead of the requested deadline.