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PM Ngirente, Cuban Delegation Discuss Renewed Health Cooperation

by Daniel Sabiiti
8:27 pm

Prime Minister, Dr. Édouard Ngirente (2nd right) with the Cuban and Rwandan health officials after the meeting

Prime Minister, Dr. Édouard Ngirente has received the Cuban Minister of Public Health and delegation as part of celebrations to mark the 45th anniversary of a good relationship between both countries and participate in the 30th commemoration of the 1994 genocide against Tutsi.

The Cuban delegation was received this April 8, 2024 at the PM’s Office in Kigali where both sides held discussions to further the relationship towards the future but also share their solidarity with Rwandans during the ongoing genocide commemoration.

Dr. José Angel Portal Miranda, the Cuban Minister of Public Health said that Cubans decided to be part of the commemoration as a way of extending their solidarity with Rwandans.

“It is an honor for us to represent our country and support your country (Rwanda) during this difficult time,” Miranda told the media through a translator shortly after the meeting with PM Ngirente.

Miranda said Cuba has a renewed cooperation agreement with Rwanda in the health sector especially medical support and expertise (doctors training)- which will also be extended to include development of biotechnology and training of specialists and conducting clinical trials.

Dr. José Angel Portal Miranda (L), the Cuban Minister of Public Health and Prime Minister, Dr. Édouard Ngirente.

Rwanda is currently home to the BioNTech mRNA-based vaccine manufacturing facility which will also require conducting clinical trials for the vaccines before they are approved by the World Health Organization (WHO).

In 2023, Rwanda FDA passed guidelines for clinical trial application to guide the process.

Akagera Medicines, a Rwanda company (62% owned by Rwanda Social Security Board- RSSB) founded in 2018 and incorporated as a Delaware corporation, has laboratories in Boston and San Francisco and has since 2022 opened its 100% owned subsidiary in Kigali to do manufacturing and clinical trials in the future.

Akagera Medicines have invested $16million in the last four years, to start producing meds for TB, HIV, and Lassa fever, and the plan for producing medication that can go to as low as $5.

“Health is a very sensitive topic and I think that we can work together to benefit both our nations because we have seen the priority that your government has given to the health development and health protection of your citizens,” Miranda said.

Twenty-nine Cuban volunteer specialist doctors, ended their two-year tour of duty in Rwanda in 2010 after treating patients from various hospitals across the country and training local medical practitioners.

Rwanda’s minister of health, Dr. Sabin Nsanzimana said that the country is counting on the Cubans’ medical expertise and training to implement Rwanda’s 4×4 health development strategy to increase number of medical doctors by four times (from one specialist per 1,000 patients to 4 per 1,000 patients).

“There is a lot we can learn from them and we hope in the next few days we will revive this medical training program,” Nsanzimana said.

Nsanzimana stated that banking of Cuban medical expertise in surgery and specialized treatment, the most efforts will be put in selected upcountry hospitals to reduce the need to travel to Kigali for treatment.

The revival of the Cuban-Rwanda medical training program is expected to resume in the next two to three months following a memorandum that was signed in Havana (in March 2024)- between both countries. Minister Miranda also noted that Cuba intends to extend the cooperation with economic projects in the future.

Last November, a Cuban delegation headed by the Vice President of the Republic, Salvador Valdés Mesa, the First Vice Minister of Public Health, Tania Margarita Cruz, made an official visit to Rwanda, focused on expanding bilateral relations.

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