Rwanda Trip: Our final days in Rwanda and Next Steps

DAYS 4 AND 5

On our fourth and fifth days in Rwanda, teams of three of us held all-day sessions at each of the four hospitals to orient the hospital staff leaders to the World Health Organization guidelines for implementing a Hand Hygiene program.  We also provided 1,000 wristbands to each hospital for them to begin a Patient Identification program.  Attendance was excellent at each hospital; 15-25 staff members from each attended, and were instructed as to how they can establish a training program for the entire hospital staff on Hand Hygiene. Essentially, we were “training the trainers.” We received very positive feedback from the staff members of each hospital, and presented everyone in attendance with a Mercy4ubuzima logo T-shirt as well as a bottle of hand sanitizer.  We also gave each hospital laminated posters on proper hand hygiene procedures from WHO to display around the hospitals.  We explained that proper patient identification requires two identifiers on each wristband: name and date of birth.  In addition to the wristbands, we supplied Sharpie permanent ink pens for staff members to use to write information on the wristbands. Below are some photos from those hospital sessions. During Day 5, Regional President of Mercy Oklahoma Di Smalley and her son, Troy, also had an opportunity to tour each of the four hospitals we have been working with. 

DAY 5 Dinner

On the evening of day 5 we held a dinner for all of the hospital leaders and government officials who had participated in our trip.  The attendance of dignitaries and helpful leaders was heartwarming.  Dr. Mike O’Neil, the Chancellor of the University of Rwanda, presided, and Minister of Health Dr. Agnes Binagwaho, U.S. Ambassador to Rwanda Donald W. Koran, one of Kigali’s two Vice Mayors, several additional representatives from the Mayor’s office and several representatives of the U.S. Agency for International Development were all present.  The attendance of these and other dignitaries and helpful leaders was heartwarming. There were excellent presentations by Di Smalley, John Nkuranga and Minister of Health Dr. Agnes Binagwaho.  A highlight of the evening was the announcement that Mercy had facilitated a grant from the USAID for $15,000 each to two of the four hospitals in Kigali, which will permit them to buy supplies to implement the Hand Hygiene program for one year. We can’t overstate how proud we are of this accomplishment, nor how grateful we are to USAID and all of those who helped to facilitate this pivotal financial aid.

DAY 6

Two of the four hospitals began their Hand Hygiene training program by having their first training session.  Members of our team were present as observers only.  We were exhilarated by the quality of the training programs put on by both of the hospitals.

Several members of the team met with the U.S. Ambassador Donald W. Koran, Peter Malnak, mission director for USAID and members of the USAID staff at the U.S. Embassy. We were told that our work in Rwanda had been noticed and that our approach was well-received.  We had very fruitful discussions about future activities in Rwanda, particularly the implementation of telemedicine, which would involve using electronic communication to allow hospitals in cities—and Mercy, in particular—to collaborate with those in more remote areas in order to provide better care to patients at rural or small hospitals. We also discussed the exciting possibility of a partnership between USAID and Mercy in the future. 

On Monday, July 28,  Di Smalley, Mike O’Neill and John Nkuranga met with President Paul Kagame and several representatives of the Rwandan government.  Again, the response to Mercy’s activities in Rwanda was very positive.  President Kagame was particularly interested in the development of telemedicine capabilities between Mercy and Rwanda.  He strongly supported building the infrastructure necessary to utilize Tele-Medicine in Rwanda. 

We feel that this trip represented a significant stride forward in the partnership between Mercy and Rwanda, our sister cities, and the improvement of healthcare practices in Rwanda. We have come back to many new projects, possibilities and goals, and—though there is a great deal of work to be done—we are thrilled with the progress that has and will be made.  We are all so grateful for the interest and support that we have received, and look forward to updating you on the next exciting steps in our mission!

 

Dr. Don Rahhal trains a member of one of the hospital's staff on proper hand hygiene.

Dr. Don Rahhal trains a member of one of the hospital’s staff on proper hand hygiene.

Di Smalley writes example patient information on wristbands during a demonstration on proper patient identification.

Di Smalley writes example patient information on wristbands during a demonstration on proper patient identification.

Members of our Mercy group with staff members of the hospitals during the training session.

Members of our Mercy group with staff members of the hospitals during the training session.

Hospital staff members receive their Mercy4Ubuzima t-shirts and hand sanitizer at the training session.

Hospital staff members receive their Mercy4Ubuzima t-shirts and hand sanitizer at the training session.

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