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In This Issue:
At left, PIH Country Director for Rwanda Peter Drobac, MD, MPH, shows Rwandan President Paul Kagame and First Lady Jeannette Kagame around the new Butaro Hospital; At right, an aerial view of the hospital.
Just three years ago, the Burera District in northern Rwanda was without a functioning hospital and had only one doctor to serve a population of more than 350,000 people. The district had the least developed public health infrastructure in Rwanda—electricity, water and sanitation services were scarce, and health indicators, such as family planning, malnutrition and malaria, were among the poorest in the nation.
January 24, 2011, marked a turning point for Burera District, and Rwanda, when the new Butaro Hospital officially opened its doors. A collaboration between Partners In Health (PIH), Rwanda’s Ministry of Health and the Clinton Health Access Initiative, the world-class, 150-bed facility offers services rarely seen in rural settings, such as a neonatal intensive care unit, two operating theaters, digital X-ray technology and a lab.
“Butaro is more than a hospital,” said Rwandan President Paul Kagame during the inauguration ceremony, which was also attended by PIH co-founder Paul Farmer, MD, PhD, chief of BWH’s Division of Global Health Equity. “It is a unique story of exceptional people with the desire to see positive change in the world and in communities like the one hosting us today.”
PIH began working with the government of Rwanda to rebuild Burera District’s health system in 2007. They quickly established a temporary facility, while simultaneously beginning plans for the new hospital.
“This area deserves a high-quality hospital, and we couldn’t wait two years,” said Matthew Craven, MD, a Doris and Howard Hiatt Resident in Global Health Equity and Internal Medicine, who supervised the final stages of construction. “The new hospital was truly built by, and for, the community. We employed more than 3,500 people from the community during the construction process. People really take pride in their hospital, and they are excited to have one of the most prominent health facilities in Rwanda in their community.”
The finished result—a cluster of red roofed buildings that sits tucked among the lush, green hills—forms the hub of a new health system in Burera District and will serve as a teaching hospital to help educate the next generation of Rwandan health professionals.
“We will continue working with our partners in the government to ensure that this beautiful facility becomes a model of rural health care delivery for the region,” said Peter Drobac, MD, MPH, PIH’s country director for Rwanda.
The success of the new hospital is also attributed, in part, to BWH, Craven says.
“We’re incredibly grateful to BWH for supporting our work in Rwanda,” said Craven. “In global health, we’re increasingly seeing the need for expertise from all specialties. We’re eager to build relationships with people from departments all over BWH as Butaro Hospital continues to grow.”