Rwandan science students are crossing to neighbouring countries for medical school but nobody knows how they end up back in local hospitals treating patients.
In the Senate Thursday, it was put to Health Minister Dr Diane Gashumba that students have for years attended medical programs in places like Goma, in eastern DR Congo. Others, according to Senator Perrine Mukankusi, go to Uganda.
No specific numbers were given, but the the lawmaker said most of those crossing borders “go for evening classes”.
The Health Minister had been summoned to brief the Committee for social affairs and human rights on plans to increase medical doctors, a number that remains low.
The world Health Organization requires that one doctor treats 1,000 patients. In Rwanda, one Doctor sees 8,000 patients, according to available figures.
Parliament is also concerned that the kind of training that some doctors are getting could be undermining health sector development.
“People working in other sectors full time go to Goma, Uganda…during the weekends for medical courses. How credible is the education they are getting there?,” asked Senator Mukankusi.
The senators recommended to the Minister that a mechanism be set up to track all medical students outside Rwanda. The system should also have government-set rules to be based on by hospitals when interviewing doctors before they are hired.
“You have to know whether these people are out there learning with the interests of Rwandans at heart,” said Niyongana Gallican.
The health ministry also came under fire from the senators who said it had neglected several previous recommendations of the legislature. It is also said to be slow or in some cases not enforcing health ministerial order.
Dr Gashumba informed the lawmakers that in addition to Rwanda having few doctors, not many are willing to work in rural areas.
Senator Dr Jean-Damascene Ntawukuriryayo, a former health minister himself, could not hold his frustration.
“How can a doctor refuse to work where a ministry appoints him or her? The biggest population of Rwandans lives in villages, I think that shows weakness in the ministry and something must be done” he said. Ntawukuriryayo.
He said the health ministry had failed to find solution to keep doctors in villages, adding it was time Parliament intervened.
“I have even talked to the minister in person over various laws we passed concerning the health sector. She has also failed to enforce ministerial orders,” Ntawukuriryayo added.
Recently while addressing journalists, Dr Aflodis Kagaba, the executive director of the health development initiative of Rwanda (HDI) claimed that the ministry is yet to issue ministerial order that will supplement the new abortion law.
“The parliament passed the law but the ministry has not provided any ministerial order for the abortion law to be used yet this practice even as I speak now, someone needs to be attended to.” Dr Kagaba said.