Delivering world-leading primary care knowledge in Rwanda
Following the successful development of its first global online course in primary care, the College of Medicine and Health have gone one step further: delivering the course on site in Rwanda.
Professor Alex Harding, Dr Rob Daniels, and Tina Teague travelled to Rwanda in June to deliver the five-day course. With a combined background in family practice, remote medicine and healthcare management, their aim was to train local healthcare workers in improving the level of quality primary care in the country.
This seminar has helped us to understand the role in community health as a fundamental in achieving good health. Hakizimana Moise, University of Rwanda medical student
The course proved a big success, with average satisfaction scores of over 90%. Each day focused on a key aspect of delivering primary care:
- On Monday over 80 students and staff attended workshops about quality improvement, leadership and developing systems to improve patient safety. More than half of political and business leaders are female in Rwanda, a figure replicated in healthcare.
- Tuesday and Wednesday covered workshops on how to teach, equipping Rwandan healthcare professionals to teach others. Small group work included members of all five schools at the University of Rwanda College of Medicine and Health.
- On Thursday the Exeter team ran workshops on developing primary care in rural locations and setting up clinics for chronic diseases.
- On Friday visits were organised to rural hospitals, clinics and health posts where primary care is delivered. Here the Exeter team and their students witnessed how Rift Valley fever, kidney failure, malaria and mental health problems are all cared for on one ward with very limited resources. They also observed chronic disease clinics and how more support is needed to deliver care of chronic diseases nearer to people’s homes.
- On the final day the team shared a final celebratory meal with everyone at the University of Rwanda College of Medicine and Health.
Primary care is paramount in early detection and prevention of diseases. Ingabire Angelique, Dental Hygienist, University of Rwanda
During the visit Professor Harding was invited to the Rwandan Department of Health to meet with ministers and directors of their healthcare workforce. As a result, the Rwandan government has asked the team to deliver the course to many more healthcare professionals, initially in the southern region of the country.
This work will be part of a wider Memorandum of Understanding between the universities of Exeter and Rwanda, focusing on:
- Helping to re-introduce a training scheme for doctors who want to become primary care physicians
- Delivering the principles of primary care course to a wider section of the workforce, in community settings
- Collaborating on research projects
- Initiating a programme of student and staff exchanges
The aim of this collaboration is to develop a faculty in Rwanda capable of delivering courses themselves, and of strengthening primary care – the most effective way of improving health – throughout the country.
“We were blown away with the warmth and desire to learn more about strengthening primary care in Rwanda; from isolated community health workers, to ministers of health in Kigali,” said Professor Alex Harding.
“Support for primary care can be overlooked despite being the most effective form of healthcare, so it was great to feel as though we can make a contribution to improving the lives of people. We aim to return several more times until there is sufficient capacity to sustain this programme within Rwanda.”
The third virtual Principles of Primary Care International CPD course will run on 4 & 11 November 2022. For more information please visit the course website.
The University also runs a Scholarship Fund so health professionals in low and middle income countries can continue to strengthen primary care locally.
For more information please contact: