Former US President Bill Clinton has applauded Rwanda's progress which he attributed to good leadership: "Your country has a strategy and owes its progress to the leadership," he said on Thursday while visiting Eastern Province with President Paul Kagame.
Clinton, accompanied by his daughter Chelsea Clinton, visited Mont Meru Soyco Plant, the model village in Nyagatovu cell of Kayonza district and Rwamagana School of Nursing and Midwifery (RSNM) located in Rwamagana district.
According to the former US president, there have been great improvements over the last decade in many areas such as health sector, education, economic growth and good governance among others. He for instance noted that life expectancy almost doubled since 1994 while maternal mortality has dropped by 60%. In addition, 90% of schoolchildren are immunized; vaccination against cervical cancer for women now extends to more than 90% while malaria mortality has decreased by half since 2007.
For Clinton, another milestone was achieved in economic growth, with the per capita income increasing fivefold in the last 14 years. "Rwanda did not get there by accident," Clinton said. "You have a vision of a country where people live together in peace and harmony and every single person counts, both men and women, and every child has a chance to live at his home in safety and equal opportunity," he remarked.
The former President was speaking to officials and midwife and nursing students who were gathered at the Rwamagana School of Nursing and Midwifery. In his efforts to support the health sector in Rwanda, Clinton announced plans to increase the quality and quantity of health workers through a collaborative partnership with some of the best schools in the United States, and in which American faculty members will be spending year in Rwanda helping in upgrading skills of medical personnel.
In addition to this, he said that the new plan will be a seven-year program and that so far 13 American medical schools have agreed to embrace the initiative.
Traditionally health professionals used to come to health schools and hospitals to do training sometimes lasting for 3 months or one week, which was not sufficient, Clinton pointed out.
"This was not sustainable to give Rwandan students and educators what will be necessary for them to be able to solve their problems as they want," he remarked, adding that, in response to this, every year about 100 US faculty members in various medical fields are expected to travel and partner with Rwandan faculty on upgrading the skills of teachers and students in the country.
The 7-year program hopes to educate over 2000 medical specialists and more than 5000 nurses. Along the process, e-learning system will also be used to upgrade skills, he mentioned. "I believe Rwanda will succeed and when you do that in the next seven years you will be running a health system without foreign assistance and everybody will be copying what you do and how it is done," Clinton pointed out.
Through his organization the Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI), the former President has been supporting the ministry of health to address the challenge of human resources in the health sector. President Paul Kagame took the occasion to express his appreciation for Clinton's continuous efforts in helping Rwandans to build their country.
"It's important to thank the President for his contribution to the construction efforts of our country, whether in the area of health, agriculture, education and many other areas," Kagame said.
President Kagame and Clinton also visited Mount Meru Soyco Ltd, a cooking oil plant situated in Mukarange sector of Kayonza district that was established in 2007 when the Clinton Hunter Development Initiative (CHDI) had the idea of starting an integrated edible oil plant in Rwanda.
The plant, expected to be completed around July 2013, costs US$ 15 million, of which US$ 10 million for construction of the plant cost and US$ 5 million as working capital. It will have a daily crushing capacity of 200 tons of oil seeds. At its full capacity, it will require 45,000 tons of oil seeds per year.
They also toured Nyagatovu Integrated Development Project, a model village launched almost three years ago in line with promoting integrated socioeconomic development in Rwanda where people are provided with social amenities such as electricity, water, a nursery school, health center, green house, biogas facilities as well as cowshed that can house 192 cows when complete. It has now 85 houses with 422 inhabitants over a total land area of 7ha.