RWANDA—The Rwanda Defence Force (RDF) and the Ministry of Health have launched a nationwide treatment campaign targeting 5,000 cataract patients as part of the Defence and Security Citizen Outreach Programme 2024.

This initiative, which began in March, was inaugurated at Rutongo District Hospital in Rulindo District.

The screening phase focused on individuals aged 50 and above who experience eye complications.

Cataracts, a common condition among the elderly, create a cloudy area in the lens of the eye, affecting vision.

Under the three-month programme, military medical specialists have treated 32,069 patients free of charge in 10 rural districts as of earlier this month.

Speaking at the launch, Minister of Health Dr. Sabin Nsanzimana emphasized the ministry’s collaboration with the RDF Medical Health Service to ensure continuous activities throughout the year.

Nsanzimana highlighted the need for partners to support and sustain the initiative, allowing health practitioners to take ownership and reduce the backlog of surgeries and specialist visits.

He stated, “This initiative aims to regularly reach out to individuals in their villages, as we have done this year.”

For his part, RDF Military Health Service Chief of Staff, Maj. Gen. Dr. Ephrem Rurangwa, noted that medical personnel are now reaching patients in their homes and health centers.

Previously based at Rwanda Military Hospital in Kigali, the services have now extended to rural areas. “We should be proud that patients no longer need to come to Kigali to meet us,” he added.

 RDF ophthalmologists launched a nationwide eye care campaign to combat blindness in 2002, initially with just three ophthalmologists.

Today, the RDF Medical Health Service has grown to include approximately 28 ophthalmologists deployed across the country.

 The Defence and Security Outreach Programme 2024 also includes constructing 31 homes for people in need, 15 Early Childhood Development (ECD) centers, 13 bridges, and distributing four boats.

Additional efforts involve distributing 800 livestock for community farming, providing medical treatment, and supplying water and electricity to 327 households, along with enhancing other infrastructure.

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