On his second day visit to California, President Kagame visited the University of California San Francisco (UCSF) where he had a roundtable discussion with faculty leading researchers in the field of health. The Executive Director of UCSF Global Health Sciences, Jaime Sepulveda described Rwanda’s progress as unique:
“Rwanda is one of the only countries on track to achieve MDG goals. There is no other country in the world that has achieved so much in such a short time.”
President Kagame emphasized on Rwanda’s commitment to ensuring access to health remains a right and not a privilege for citizens:
“There is one resource you can only impoverish by choice and that is people.If we invest correctly in people, we are as well off as anyone else in the world. It all starts with commitment to avail services to our people.”
With 17% of Rwanda’s national budget dedicated to health, President Kagame explained that providing quality health services remains a key priority for Rwanda.
During the discussion, President Kagame shared Rwanda’s achievements in the health sector over the years including the child immunization rate which is currently at 95%, universal access to anti-retroviral drugs, the continuous decrease of maternal and child mortality and the universal health coverage for Rwandan citizens.
Emphasizing the importance of involving citizens in the progress of the health sector, President Kagame pointed to Rwanda’s community health workers as key to Rwanda’s progress in the sector. With their involvement, Rwanda was able to decrease malaria rate by 85% from 2003 to 2013.
President Kagame described capacity in the health sector as one of Rwanda’s main challenges to achieving quality services and called on the University of California San Francisco to partner with Rwanda in this field.
Speaking on behalf of the faculty present, Founding Executive Director of Global Health Sciences and renowned Eritrean doctor, Dr. Haile Debas described Rwanda as a model in the field of development:
“You have shown the world how a developing African country can become an emerging economy. As an African, I am proud and inspired by your enlightened leadership which convinces me that Africa has a bright future.”
President Kagame concluded the second day of his visit with a reception hosted by Ambassador Thomas Riley where he met with leading investors in the field of information technology in Sillicon Valley.
Notes to the editor:
· UCSF Global Health Sciences (GHS) is dedicated to improving health and reducing the burden of disease in the world\’s most vulnerable populations. It integrates UCSF expertise in all of the health, social, and biological sciences, and focuses that expertise on pressing issues in global health. GHS works with partners in countries throughout the world to achieve these aims.
· The roundtable discussion also served as an opportunity for faculty present to share recent discoveries in the field of prevention of maternal mortality and vaccine preservation. Dr. Shashi Dhar Buluswar, Executive Director of LBNL Institute of Globally Transformative Technologies presented portable solar powered fridge aimed at ensuring vaccine preservation at the right temperature aimed at ensuring wider immunization. Professor Suellen Miller presented a portable anti-shock garment for hemorrhage that has helped decrease maternal mortality by reducing hemorrhages following child birth.