We checked in with Michel Musilikare, Health Builders’ Executive Director, to see how the team in Rwanda is doing amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
What is the situation like now in Rwanda with COVID-19?
The number of cases has more than doubled since the last time we spoke. Previously most of the cases were in Kigali, but now we are seeing cases in rural districts too, and this is concerning. Many of them do not have the same resources as in the capital. For the moment, testing is being carried out at central locations, but if the trend continues, our health centers may have to start doing COVID-19 testing.
How is the pandemic affecting your work at Health Builders?
Some of our projects, such as our adolescent sexual and reproductive health program, were on pause last month because the government had banned travel between provinces. We have been able to resume those programs now.
Have you had to work virtually?
We have been able to continue our mentoring, including supporting health centers’ pharmacy management, virtually. Doing things virtually is really challenging because our staff cannot actually travel to the health centers to check that they have all the proper medicines and supplies. They have to rely on what the health centers tell us, but sometimes their staff is not as updated as they should be. This past month, we also had our annual board meeting. Because of COVID-19, all the meetings were done virtually. Despite the challenges, we had a great meeting and provided updates on our work this past year and our plans for the future.
An update on our work
We continue to support our 52 health centers in rural Rwanda amid the COVID-19 pandemic, including by advocating on their behalf to the Rwandan government to provide them with masks and other personal protective equipment. We are also continuing our range of programs, including our pharmacy management work. By coaching health centers on how to better manage their pharmacies, we help them run more effectively in a number of ways:
- Many health centers struggle with keeping their stocks organized. This means that they often end up not having the proper medicines available or that they order too much and end up having to throw out expired drugs. By working with them to develop protocols to track supplies, we ensure that they have the drugs they need to treat patients and don’t end up with an unnecessary surplus.
- We work with the health centers to ensure that their drug storage facilities are in proper conditions. Prior to our work, many health centers did not properly store medicines, which negatively impacted their efficacy.
- We help transport medicines from the manufacturers to the health centers when there are problems in the supply chain.
- The pharmacy represents the health centers’ primary source of income. But prior to our interventions, many health centers did not know how to properly bill drugs, which resulted in a loss of profit. We provide health centers with coaching on how to create and collect bills so that they don’t end up losing money.
We need your help
As COVID-19 continues spreading, our work to strengthen health centers in Rwanda is even more crucial. In addition to ensuring that our 52 health centers, each of which serves up to 24,000 people, have the supplies and training they need to help curb the spread of the pandemic, we are also working with them to make sure they can continue to provide their regular health services.
Your support helps us to continue to provide lifesaving care to thousands of Rwandans. We appreciate your generous support amid these difficult times.
Please donate today.