Butaro Hospital completes expansion project, becomes teaching hospital

The expansion improves care for thousands, secures teaching hospital accreditation

Posted on Oct 3, 2023

A view of Butaro Hospital's campus in Burera, Rwanda
After nearly two years, the expansion of PIH-supported Butaro Hospital has now been completed, improving care and services for the over 33,000 patients it serves each year. Photo by Pacifique Mugemana / Partners In Health.

A new era of patient care has begun at Butaro Hospital.

After nearly two years of construction and renovation, Butaro Hospital has completed its expansion project, positioning it to offer improved care and services to the over 33,000 patients who seek treatment there each year.

“This milestone is a demonstration of our joint commitment to providing quality health care services to the people of Rwanda,” says Dr. Joel M. Mubiligi, executive director of Partners In Health in Rwanda and interim vice chancellor of the University of Global Health Equity. “We are honored to be part of this transformative project.”

The ambitious, multi-year expansion project, which Partners In Health began in December 2021 in partnership with the government, has increased the hospital’s capacity from 150 to 237 beds, doubled the number of surgeries able to be performed, and added a four-story wing, including a radiology suite, an emergency unit, and two admission oncology wards.

In addition to improving patient care, the expansion has further established Butaro Hospital as a leading medical and scientific institution in the region and has helped it secure teaching hospital accreditation—a milestone that enables the hospital to serve as a fertile training ground for students from the nearby University of Global Health Equity, which PIH founded in 2015 in partnership with the Rwandan Ministry of Health.

Beds in the newly-expanded Butaro Hospital.
The expansion project increased the hospital's capacity from 150 to 237 beds and doubled the number of surgeries able to be performed. Photo by Pacifique Mugemana / Partners In Health.

Known locally as Inshuti Mu Buzima, Partners In Health has worked in Rwanda since 2005, strengthening the health system in partnership with the Ministry of Health. Butaro Hospital was built in 2011 through that partnership, along with architectural partner MASS Design.

In the years since, the hospital has expanded its programs and services, working with communities across Burera and providing lifesaving care in a rural district that once had no hospital.

As programs and services have expanded, so too has demand. In 2012, just a year after opening, the hospital served 561 new patients in its oncology ward. By 2019, that number had surged to 1,770, reflecting an increased demand and fueling the need for growth.

Before the expansion, the oncology ward was at 120% capacity and the pediatric ward was at 130% capacity. Crucial services were also unavailable, including a CT scan—needed by more than 75% of cancer patients. As a result, cancer patients had to be transferred to other centers for imaging, costing precious time and money and putting their health at increased risk. The hospital also had no intensive care unit, no oxygen plant, and only one operating room for all types of surgery.

Now, with the expansion complete, patients can access these services and more, including a newly-renovated cafeteria where free meals will be provided to patients and their families, as part of PIH’s social support program.

The newly-expanded, teaching-accredited hospital is set to improve patient care for years to come.

“We are grateful to our hardworking team, our generous donors for their unwavering support, and the Ministry of Health for their leadership in making this expansion a reality,” says Mubiligi. “Together, we will continue to build a brighter and healthier future for all Rwandans.”

A view of the ribbon cutting ceremony from inside the newly-expanded Butaro Hospital
A ribbon-cutting ceremony was held on October 3 to celebrate the opening of the newly-expanded Butaro Hospital. Photo by Asher Habinshuti / Partners In Health.
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