RWANDA — The Rwandese government has launched an obstetrics and gynecology (OB-GYN) residency training program at Rwamagana Level Two Teaching Hospital in the Eastern Province.

This significant event took place on May 24, 2024, aiming to increase enrolment and expand training capacity in both public and private institutions,  according to the local daily New Times.

The ultimate goal is to upsurge the number of qualified healthcare professionals, ensuring proper workforce distribution across the country to reduce maternal deaths.

According to the Health Management Information System (HMIS), Rwanda has recorded 1,700 maternal deaths in the past five years.

More than half of these deaths are linked to delays and poor-quality care, with two-thirds occurring during the night shift when staffing and resources are most constrained.

The newly launched program will reach all teaching hospitals and aligns with the government-approved 4×4 Reform, which intends to quadruple healthcare worker production within the next four years.

This initiative aims to meet the WHO recommendation of at least four healthcare professionals per 1,000 population density.

It also seeks to strengthen the healthcare system, improve access to quality sexual and reproductive health services, and address the healthcare needs of women and girls.

Speaking at the launch, Dr. Yvan Butera, Minister of State for Health, emphasized the importance of this new program.

He told resident doctors that they are embarking on an exceptional journey of learning to provide proper service and care to the people.

Dr. Butera highlighted that while OB-GYN is the first program, other projects are set to launch soon.

He noted that progress has been made in the last 15 years, albeit not at a rapid pace. However, with dedication and tenacity, he anticipates significant improvements.

Dr. Butera urged resident doctors to work closely with the training hospitals and district leadership, as well as engage with the community to better understand the concerns of locals and find solutions.

He concluded by stressing that this program will soon yield results, with maternal and child health and workforce training being central priorities.

On her part, Senait Fisseha, Vice President of Global Programs at the Susan Thompson Buffett Foundation, expressed her honor in celebrating key events to improve maternal and reproductive health and the well-being of women and girls in Rwanda.

She noted that the Ministry of Health has responded to the challenge of healthcare workforce gaps across the country, with the 4×4 Reform moving from an idea to implementation in just eighteen months.

Fisseha highlighted that Rwanda has 120 OB-GYNs serving a population of 13 million and emphasized the need for both female and male specialists for community health.

“We have nurses, midwives, general practitioners, and community health workers because it takes an entire ecosystem and community to tackle this problem,” she expounded.

Fisseha also emphasized that the Ministry of Health and its partners’ efforts will help accelerate and increase the number of gynecologists, demonstrating that Africa can rely on itself.

She mentioned that training alone is not a singular fix to maternal and reproductive health challenges in Rwanda and stressed the need to pair it with other systems and policy reforms.

Commenting on the program, Dr. Ariella Ntadohoka, a resident in OB-GYN, described the residency program as a milestone that doctors have tirelessly worked to achieve.

She stated that their paths have required years of tough study, multiple exams, and invaluable clinical experiences, and that despite their preparation, the reality of beginning the next chapter in their careers is unsurpassed.

The postgraduate OB-GYN programme will yearly train up to 60 residents. The Ministry of Health, the Rwanda Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RSOG), the University of Rwanda (UR), and 10 Level Two teaching hospitals will all work together on this initiative.

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