Yashyizweho kuri 2 October, 2018 | 07:02

Government buys media tips for better health services

Ministry of Health, Ministry of Infrastructure and Rwanda Social Security Board (RSSB) have committed to taking actions to fix inaccuracies observed by the media in health sector.

The commitments undertaken by different government officials on Thursday include adding more services in the current 680 health posts and quickening the development of over 1,000 at a cell level, and improving access to health facilities by rehabilitating and constructing new feeder roads.

They also include improving service delivery and availability of medicine in all health facilities by disbursing insurance-derived payments on time, increasing a number of ambulances and ensuring their good technical conditions, and improving staff in health facilities. The commitments are expected to respond to challenges observed this year across the country by PAX PRESS, a local NGO, bringing together over 150 reporters from different media outlets.

Speaking at a national workshop organised by the NGO Thursday, Minister of Health, Dr Diane Gashumba, pledged actions on issues raised and tasked her staff in attendance to closely work with the media to ensure smooth implementation of the commitments.

The sixth Pax Press’s national interactive workshop was themed “improved service delivery in health centres and health posts: A pillar to a resilient Rwanda society.”
“We want to cut short the distance between a citizen and health facilities from the current 56 minutes to a maximum 30-minute walk by availing a health post to every cell level. We are also increasing services offered in those health posts,’ said Minister Gashumba. “We are working on improving service delivery in health centres and hospitals. We want to offer training to nurses, doctors and other healthcare providers and increase staff where it is insufficient.”

She urged healthcare providers to improve customer care and encouraged citizens to subscribe to community-based health insurance (CBHI) widely known as Mutuelle de Santé at 100% rate from the current 73%, to embrace diseases prevention, hygiene practices and timely seeking healthcare.

Alarming issues observed

Albert Baudouin Twizeyimana, the National Coordinator of Pax Press, said critical health issues were observed in most of the 18 sectors from different districts in which the NGO has so far held community debates this year. “Residents voiced hardships in acquiring health services. Health centres are far and no roads leading there, lack of ambulances, and women who give birth on the way to health centres are penalised with Rwf10,000,” he said.

Another most voiced challenge is the recurrent lack of medicine in health facilities which forces patients to costly buy it from private pharmacies yet they contributed for CBHI. The facilities blamed the issue on RSSB which collects the contributions but delay to disburse payments to health facilities. Some health centres have claimed that RSSB is yet to pay for the invoices they issued eight months ago.

Alex Rulisa, the head of CBHI at RSSB, said the delay resulted mainly from an insufficient staff to review the invoices and the insufficiency of the contributions which got finished in six months while they are deemed to cover a year starting in July.

While the CBHI contribution is Rwf3,000 per head annually, Rulisa said that the scheme requires Rwf7,000 but he said the government has poured in cash to clear the arrears.

“The government has now provided funds to pay health facilities and we have recruited staff to ensure that no payments remain pending by December. We are also working on an ICT system to manage CBHI effectively, it is expected to be functional by 2019.”

Rulisa said that, while health posts are currently accepting CBHI, RSSB considers helping other health insurance schemes to get on board.

Minister Gashumba said, said that, among other actions, the government increased recently the number of community health workers from 45,000 to over 48,000 countrywide in order to offer timely healthcare at ease of access and resources.

Jean d’Amour Mugabo

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