The new operating room in Rwinkwavu
 
Dr. Augustine Gatera and nurse Aimé Kipendo with one of the first patients in the Rwinkwavu operating room.

Scalpel, please. After months of construction, training, and procuring equipment and supplies, the operating room at Rwinkwavu Hospital in Rwanda is open for business. The first operation was performed on October 11 by Dr. Augustin Gatera -- an emergency C-section on Cyakimwe Verema, a 30-year-old suffering from cervical dystocia.

As part of the standard Rwandan medical curriculum, all doctors are trained in both general medicine and surgery. Prior to working with Partners In health, Dr. Augustine worked at Byumba District Hospital in the obstetrical and gynecology dept followed by a year of specialized training in surgery at Butare University Hospital. Along with Dr. Augustine, the Medical Director of Rwinkwavu District Hospital, Dr. Adolphe Karamaga, is also now regularly performing emergency obstetrical operations. During their first five weeks in operation, the surgical team performed 26 emergency obstetrical operations..

 A proud mother with first baby delivered by c-section
 
Proud mother Cyakimwe Verema looks on as Dr. Augustine holds the first baby delivered in the operating room.

Being able to provide obstetrical surgery could save hundreds of lives in an area where maternal mortality rates are high and transportation to hospitals in other districts is not readily available. Rwanda’s maternal mortality rates remain among the highest in the world with approximately 1071 deaths per 100,000 live births. According to the 2005 Maternal, Neonatal and Child Health Assessment in Rwanda, only 7.2 percent of births in Rwanda occur in facilities capable of emergency obstetrical care and only 1.1 percent of births are performed by cesarean section.

The capacity of the Rwinwkavu Hospital maternity department and operating room will continue to be developed to help meet the overwhelming demand and need for improved obstetrical care. Currently the hospital has between 40-50 births a month. There is already a need for expansion of the maternity ward and delivery room. In addition to increasing space, Dr. Augustine has identified immediate needs for ultrasound capacity, incubators and aspirators.

For now, the Rwinkwavu Hospital operating room is concentrating on emergency obstetrics. In 2007, PIH country director Michael Rich says he would like to expand operations to include hysterectomies, exploratory laparotomies, orthopedic surgery and amputations.

[posted December 2006 ]

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