Tag Archives: Butare

About to leave for home

This may be my last blog entry written from Rwanda. It has been a simply fabulous trip in every respect.

Will and I are the Hotel des Mille Collines, made famous by the film, Hotel Rwanda. It is a very nice upscale hotel. We stopped here because we are early for the airport, and we are using the WiFi connection here for a couple of hours.

For the past two days I have been in Butare, which is the home of the National University of Rwanda. It is a university town ? think the Chapel Hill of Rwanda.

It is also home for St. Paul's Cathedral, the main Anglican church in the diocese of Butare. It is the sister congregation for our church back in Chapel Hill.

I visited with Bishop Nathan Gasatura and his wife Florence ? whom I first met when they were visiting Chapel Hill about a year and a half ago. They are very warm and engaging people. He has long been a church and NGO leader, and she is a nurse. Florence got her masters in nursing in Scotland several years ago. When she was in Chapel Hill recently, she toured the North Carolina Cancer Hospital.

Florence took me around the medical school ? and I was also hosted by the vice dean. I had met the dean in Kigali last week. We saw the entire complex ? and I am quite impressed with what they do with limited resources.

We also visited the teaching hospital in Butare, which is known by its French acronym CHUB. It is about 500 beds ? and, again, I was very impressed with what they are doing. A major challenge for them is physician recruitment and retention, especially for specialists. For example, they told me there are no oncologists in the nation of Rwanda, and only a hand full of orthopedists, ophthalmologists, ENTs, etc.

Yesterday afternoon Will came back from his day at the Dufatanye Co-op, dirty, sweaty and tired, but very happy ? he has some great pictures that they took of him making bricks! He also made a clay pot ? like he learned to do in his ceramics class at Wingate University! He says they were fascinated with his making it.

Last evening we ate at Nathan and Florence's house ? it was a delicious meal of traditional Rwandese food. The dish I've grown to love is rice with what we would call English peas and carrots, with a sauce poured over it that looks like thin tomato soup. It is very tasty and filling.

I think I've lost a few pounds on this trip ? because I'm eating good food but not many snacks.

I really feel great.

Today I visited a bit with the leaders at St. Paul's Cathedral and then we started back to Kigali.

We stopped en route at Nyanza, to say thanks and farewell to Godfrey and Diane, his wife, at the Dufatanye Co-op. They gave us some gifts to take back, Rwandan crafts.

So … A few hours from now we hope to be on the plane headed home.

This has been a wonderful experience.

I will be able to post some pictures in a day or so.

Stay tuned.

Public Health and Health Care in Rwanda

Neonatal unit in CHUK

Neonatal unit in CHUK

Today I had the privilege of meeting with several health leaders here in Kigali.

I was introduced to them via my friend, Nathan Thielman, MD, who is a faculty member at Duke Med School. Nathan is an internist who does work in infectious diseases, HIV/AIDS, and global health.

I visited with two Ob/Gyn physicians with whom he is collaborating here in a project to lower Rwanda's maternal mortality rate. It is currently about 350 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births.

I met Dr. Stephen Rusila, who is head of research at the Central Teaching Hospital of Kigali. It goes by its French acronym, CHUK.

The med school in Rwanda is in Butare, where it is a part of the National University of Rwanda. In North Carolina terms, Butare is the smallish university town ? the Chapel Hill, and Kigali is the large, capital city ? the Raleigh, or even Charlotte. All med students get their basic science teaching in Butare, but a sizeable number get clinical training at the Central Teaching Hospital in Kigali, much like we send students for clinical rotations to AHEC sites across North Carolina.

I also met Dr. Janvier Rwamwejo, who is on the staff of King Faisal Hospital ? it is widely said to be the finest hospital in the country.

We talked about their project ? and the efforts to train mid-wives and other health workers to recognize problem pregnancies and to manage them or refer them.

The infant mortality rate in Rwanda is estimated to be 65 per 1000 live births this year. That is in the middle of the range of the various African countries' rates. By contrast, the US rate this year is between 6 and 7 deaths, before one year of age, per 1000 live births.

P1010969 Tomorrow I am meeting with the dean of the Faculty of Medicine of the National University of Rwanda, and the next day with the Minister of Health. This is proving to be a very enlightening and very pleasant visit.

I added some local beauty to my hotel room today ? I bought some flowers from the shop in the hotel lobby ? the arrangement is not nearly as attractive as those my wife does ? but it still brightens up the room!

I am now also posting photos to my Flickr page. You can see them here.