By Catriona Spiller, Health Analyst with T&J Meyer Family Foundation
On Rwanda’s Independence Day I flew over the Burundian mountains to Kigali. After a month visiting various East African health care deliverers from small rural clinics to large government hospitals, my perspective on standards of care, staffing, hygiene and aesthetics felt hardened to the realities of low-cost care where resources are scarce.
Driving through the farmed hills of Burera to PIH’s rural flagship hospital in Butaro I discussed the extent of the Ministry of Health partnership and collaboration with country Deputy Director Antoinette and the new initiatives for AAWs – agricultural workers tackling the root causes of malnutrition in the homes of families at risk.
Arriving at Butaro, you are instantly aware that this place was built for patients – the signposts are color coded for the illiterate, inpatients all have a view out the window, the ventilation and space is neutral and light. The labs, equipment, ICU and wards are all professionally maintained and instil confidence. Staff are welcoming and diligent – this is a place that truly cares for those who are sick, a factor taken for granted by so many in the world, but not here in Rwanda.
The resounding message from my trip was not just the achievements in healthcare delivery standards, but what Butaro Hospital means.
Butaro is the tangible creation of an ideal – the strength of capacity and the high quality of services would throw many ‘monitoring and evaluation’ sheets designed for rural Africa into question.
Butaro stands on top of the hill proving that poor people should not have inferior healthcare because they can’t afford it.
Kamanzi, the Project Manager, told me a story of a patient that had heard of Butaro and travelled from another district to receive treatment here. He was seen, treated and cared for. He vowed that when he went back to his own district he would be asking why they too did not have ‘a Butaro’.
With so many people telling it like it is; the statistics telling us of the brutal inequalities, the rural villagers’ plight in Rwanda, Butaro’s tale of ‘what it could be’ is bringing hope to Rwandans and development analysts alike.