ICT Policy for Health Care in Rwanda

For Rwanda’s population, the country has a relatively low number of doctors. However, during the last decade, the country’s public health conditions have been taking huge leaps forward. Since 2000 the maternal mortality ratio has fallen by 60%, most people are now surviving tuberculosis, many people with AIDS are on antiretroviral drugs, and childhood mortality has dropped by 70%. Furthermore, Paul Farmer, the founder of Partners in Health, an organization that provides medical services to Rwanda and Haiti, said in this NY Times article that, “‘If these gains can be sustained, Rwanda will be the only country in the region on track to meet each of the health-related Millennium Development Goals by 2015.”

 What is it about Rwanda that has made the country so successful? Part of the answer lies in the fact that health insurance is very cheap and heavily subsidized by donors, resulting in 98% of Rwandans having medical insurance. Another big part of the answer is Rwanda’s national use of ICTs for doctors. The Rwandan government supports a national system of computerized medical records and village health workers can use text messaging to send medical records to hospitals. 

 Furthermore, Rwanda’s Treatment and Research Aids Centre (TRAC) has been using ICTs to provide real time information about HIV/AIDS to the entire country. TRACnet is a web and phone based system that provides treatment monthly indicators and information about drug shortages. TRACnet also allows patients to document their conditions and connect with doctors. TRACnet has gained international recognition for its effective use of ICTs. 

Image Rwanda is clearly on the right track with its ICT policy and it seems that the country’s public health conditions will only improve from here. Hopefully other countries will be able to follow Rwanda’s ICT policy model in the and see these vast improvements too.

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2 responses to “ICT Policy for Health Care in Rwanda

  • laurag063

    Wow I really had no idea that Rwanda was experiencing so much success in this sector. It really does beg the question, why aren’t other African countries following suit? You mentioned that the government subsidized the digitization of medical records and some other ICT strategies. I wonder if this was an easy feat or if external organizations really needed to push for the Rwandan government’s support, if not, I, too, hope other countries will attempt some of the same strategies Rwanda has proven to be worth the risk.

  • emilyschnitt

    Because of the ever-changing nature of health and medecine, I can see how strength in ICT policy would directly correlate to public health. In Rwanda, the nature by which communication is strengthened with ICTs has the ability to change the speed with which action is taken on a given patient and the speed at which they get the service they need. The ability to transport medical records with the click of a button strengthens the knowledge-base and thus the ability to more quickly diagnose.

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