The New Times (Kigali)

Rwanda: RDF Medics Offer Free Treatment to Genocide Survivors

Gisagara — A team of Rwanda Defence Forces (RDF) medics from Rwanda Military Hospital this week began offering free treatment to residents of Huye and Gisagara districts, most of them survivors of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.

The exercise, which kicked off on Monday, is part of RDF's routine community outreach programme, dubbed the Army Week, when RDF personnel assist members of the community in various areas of development.

The team will provide healthcare education, consultation, screening and specialised treatment to the local community.

According to officials, this week's exercise that mainly targets genocide survivors with psychological and physical problems is jointly organised by RDF and the Fund for Genocide Survivors (FARG).

The Director of Kanombe Military Hospital, Col. Dr. Ben Karenzi, told The New Times on Monday that a specialised medical team comprising surgeons, ophthalmologists, physiotherapists, dermatologists, gynaecologists amongst other specialists, are presently attending to residents at Kibirizi, Gakoma and Kabutare district hospitals.

He said the exercise involves a total of 72 specialists with the first three days dedicated to Gisagara residents before the team embarks on Huye for another three days.

"We expect to treat over 5,000 patients in six days," Karenzi said.

"We are well prepared; We have specialists and enough equipment," he added.

According to Theophile Ruberangeyo, FARG's Executive Secretary, an assessment carried out in 2011 revealed that over 18,000 survivors who sustained serious physical and psychological trauma during the Genocide are in need of specialised treatment.

He disclosed that his agency had entered into a partnership with RDF to treat such cases.

Since mid this year, RDF has offered specialised medical treatment to genocide survivors in the districts of Nyaruguru, Rusizi, Nyamasheke, Ngoma and Kirehe. Other districts to follow include Karongi and Rutsiro in the Western Province.

"We are moving from district to district based on the data we collected," Ruberangeyo said.

"We have started with districts with high numbers of survivors who sustained severe physical or psychological wounds."

He noted that the partnership between FARG and RDF was enabling the fund to reduce the expenditure on specialised treatment to all survivors in need.

Speaking during the launch at Kibirizi Hospital, Gisagara district Mayor, Leandre Karekezi, commended the RDF for its sacrifice in championing for enhancement of people's health.

He said the field exercise had enabled vulnerable residents to access services.

"The Armed Forces have actively been involved in every single aspect of our lives. They have participated in the construction of houses for vulnerable residents, classrooms, roads and bridges; and they are involved in the land consolidation programme and so many other initiatives.

And, besides their task of guaranteeing our security, they are offering our people free specialised treatment. This is a great sacrifice on their behalf", Karekezi said.

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