Home NewsNational President Kagame Promises Community Health Workers More Gov’t Support

President Kagame Promises Community Health Workers More Gov’t Support

by Edmund Kagire
3:44 pm

President Kagame said the Government might not have all the resources but it will mobilise what is needed to ease the work of Community Health Workers. Photo/RBA.

President Paul Kagame on Saturday promised Community Health Workers that the government will do more, within the available resources, to support them in different ways in recognition of the work they do in terms of providing healthcare to Rwandans.

The Head of State made the commitment while addressing more than 8,000 healthcare providers from across the country, who included Community Health Workers, Heads of Health Posts and Health Centers as well as other representatives and other stakeholders in the health sector.

President Kagame said that over the last three decades, Community Health Workers have made invaluable contributions to the country’s health sector, without expecting much, including remuneration, a sacrifice he said the government will pay back by providing more resources to support their work.

Rwanda has made significant strides in strengthening Primary HealthCare (PHC) to ensure accessibility to quality and affordable healthcare services for all citizens, an achievement he said was made possible by the close to 60,000 Community Health Workers spread across the country.

“What brought me here today, the first thing is to thank you. I would really like to thank you for your contribution. They mentioned what we have achieved over the years, it is because of you,” President Kagame said.

It was full house.

“Many of you do so with no reward, no remuneration. Even for some of you who are remunerated, it is not enough. There is one more thing to follow, which is supporting you in whatever you do at different levels, so that you can do what you are supposed to do,” he added.

He pointed out that while the resources might not be readily available, the government can within its means do more to improve the lives of Community Health Workers, including tools to ease their work, necessary training and more, but reminded them to put their own contribution and effort because it starts with them.

President Kagame said that it is the responsibility of the government to raise the necessary resources so that work continues, because there is still a long way to go, and it will require resources to get there.
“Whatever we are today, we can be because we are healthy. A country can only develop if people are healthy and can work towards the development we are talking about,” President Kagame further noted.

Community Health Workers have been at the forefront of the progress Rwanda has registered over the past 30 years, playing a vital role in extending essential healthcare services to remote and underserved areas.

The Community Health Worker program, introduced in 1995 with 12,000 CHWs, has grown over time to encompass 58,567 CHWs with four CHWs in rural and peri-urban areas and three in urban areas, according to the Ministry of Health.

BK Arena was rocked by the upbeat Community Health Workers.

President Kagame extended his appreciation to the over 8,000 who thronged BK Arena to celebrate the crucial role they have played as connectors between the health system and communities, performing a range of functions including health education and delivering healthcare services.

Among other contributions, the Community Health Workers have played a vital role in malaria treatment, pneumonia treatment, malnutrition screening, follow-up care for pregnant women, as well as referring cases to higher levels of care.

They were also recognised for their contribution during the COVID-19 pandemic, where they played an instrumental in reducing the burden of COVID-19 and chronic diseases while assisting with response efforts.

Dr. Sabin Nsanzimana, Minister of Health, said that CHWs have played a notable role in Rwanda achieving a 90 percent reduction in national malaria incidence per 1,000 from 2008 to 2023 reaching 47 per 1,000 population, with a prevalence reduction of 90 percent.

They are also credited for treating 59 percent of total malaria cases and increasing family planning rates to 64 percent, where modern contraceptive prevalence rate is at 58 percent and traditional means at 6 percent. That helped the country to reduce fertility from 5.9 percent to 3.6 percent from 2002 to 2022.

Dr. Nsanzimana said Rwanda has been able to achieve health targets thanks to the contribution of CHWs.

They also played a key role in the reduction of the maternal mortality ratio from over 1,000 in 2000 to 203 deaths per 100,000 live births in 2020, currently standing at 100 deaths per 100,000 live births.

Through them, Rwanda has achieved a high skilled birth attendance rate of 94 percent through the identification, follow-up, and referral of pregnant women, thanks to community health workers. They have also contributed to the management of 77 percent of all non-communicable disease cases at health centers.

Community Health Workers also saw a significant reduction in under-five mortality rates from 196 in 2000 to 45 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2020.

Rwanda’s Community Health System has successfully delivered essential interventions at scale, addressing a significant portion of service demand at the community level.

Dr. Nsanzimana said that with more resources, the country can leverage the Community Health Workers to achieve more of its healthcare targets, similarly promising more efforts to recognise their contribution in terms of support and benefits.

Beatrice Magnifique, who has been a Community Health Worker for 29, highlighted how they’ve been able to make a contribution without many resources, reiterating their commitment to continue the journey.

More than 240 new ambulances will help CHWs to fulfil their duties.

 

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