Kigali, Rwanda. – On August 5, 2013 President Clinton and daughter Chelsea Clinton will visit the University Teaching Hospital of Kigali, where faculty from the University of Maryland School of Nursing (UMSON) work in support of the Rwandan Ministry of Health’s Human Resources for Health (HRH) program. This unprecedented program seeks to strengthen the capacity of Rwanda’s health care provider workforce and improve the quality and quantity of care. Over 100 faculty members from 13 of the top-ranked universities, will spend a minimum of 11 months over the next seven years to train 500 health care providers. The Clinton Foundation’s Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI) program supports the Rwandan Ministry of Health’s efforts to produce the professional health care workforce it needs to ensure high quality health care for all Rwandans.
Kathryn Schaivone, MPA, director of UMSON’s Clinical Education and Evaluation Laboratory, has led a team of six UMSON faculty members for the past year, providing health care services and training Rwandan providers in nursing and midwifery. “We have seen our Rwandan colleagues and students gain a better understanding of evidence-based nursing and embrace and put into practice that knowledge,” she says. Schaivone adds that a highlight of her work in Rwanda has been “teaching hundreds of nursing and midwifery students neonatal resuscitation through simulation education and seeing their confidence grow with mastery of that skill.”
Colleague Rani Khan, MSN says she’s had an “amazing experience” working in Rwanda. “The health of mothers and newborns are essential to the health of any community and I have been proud to contribute to the elevation of healthcare to the midwives of (the northern city of) Byumba,” she says.
Rwanda is burdened by many of the same issues as other underdeveloped African nations, malnutrition, malaria, AIDS, and high infant mortality rates. The HRH program’s goal is different from many other aid programs: working toimprove the overall level of health care, rather than tackling individual diseases. “Our Rwandan counterparts are the true heroes,” says Marik Moen, MSN, MPH, RN, assistant professor and U.S. Rwandan program coordinator, “given what they are called upon to do every day in these conditions.”
Later in August, the University of Maryland, Baltimore team will expand to include faculty from the School of Medicine and the School of Dentistry. Doee Kitessa, MD is excited about the opportunity to teach obstetrics in Rwanda. “I have had a long interest in working there,” she says. “My parents are from Ethiopia. It’s a chance to shore up my teaching skills and hopefully have a kind of impact.” Dentistry colleague Marie Johnson, DDS agrees. “It will be great to leave there feeling like we accomplished something,” she says. “Right now they have a 3-year dental therapy program. We’re trying to develop a 5-year Bachelor of Dental Surgery program.”
The Clinton Health Access Initiative works with the governments of 70 developing countries on five continents, strengthening health care systems, expanding access to treatment and providing access to reduced price medicines and diagnostics.
The University of Maryland School of Nursing, founded in 1889, is one of the oldest and largest nursing schools, and is ranked eleventh nationally. Enrolling more than 1,600 students in its baccalaureate, master’s, and doctoral programs, the School develops leaders who shape the profession of nursing and impact the health care environment.