The New Times (Kigali)

26 January 2013

Rwanda: Is the Investment in King Faisal Hospital Kigali Paying Off?

Emmanuel Musole Muharaza, 67, a native of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) arrived at Rwanda's King Faisal Hospital for specialised treatment two years ago.

He had sustained a deep cut on his head after an accident in Bukavu, South Kivu.

As a result, he suffered a stroke prompting medics at Panzi Hospital in DR Congo, to refer his case to King Faisal Hospital, Kigali.

"I was in a comma by the time I was brought to King Faisal Hospital. My family was scared and thought I would die but I was instead successfully operated upon by a Neurosurgeon here," he told The New Times in an interview on Thursday.

He was operated upon and discharged within 72 hours.

Musole has now returned to the hospital, but this time to seek medical attention for his wife who was also involved in an accident recently.

He observed that he was compelled to bring his wife to the hospital not only because he received excellent treatment but also the amazing medical care that saw him get back to his feet in no time.

The businessman is among the growing number of foreign patients arriving in the country and, in particular, King Faisal Hospital for medical treatment.

According to recent statistics from the hospital, last year alone there was a total of 3,755 foreign patients from DRC, Burundi, Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda in what has been termed the medical tourism boom.

DRC recorded the biggest number of foreign patients with 1,850, Burundi came second with 1,218, followed by Kenya with 379 cases.

Dr Alex Butera, the Acting Chief Executive Officer of the hospital, said there has been a lot of negative talk about the facility, however, most of what is said, is not what is on the ground.

"There has been massive improvement, especially in terms of manpower, equipment and customer care. The biggest challenge now is space since we get so many patients every other day. We have even now established an international office at the hospital that handles foreign patients," he said.

He said that the hospital now has most of the medical specialists needed which has, in turn, led to the decline in referral cases since specialised treatment is offered on site.

The hospital is now looking for Cardiac and Transplant surgeons since the referral cases they receive are for patients who need heart or kidney surgery.

The facility also boasts three Oncologists and a Haematologist (specialises in diseases affecting blood and blood forming organs).

According to last year's statistics, King Faisal Hospital had 41 patients referred for further treatment to other countries. This was mainly for cancer, renal transplants and heart diseases.

Many of the complicated medical conditions like hunch backs can now be treated in Rwanda, according to Dr Butera.

By last year, cases of referring health complications to hospitals abroad have gone down by 80 per cent, he added.

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