The New Times (Kigali)

29 January 2013

Rwanda: Pointing Fingers Will Not Improve Our Healthcare System

editorial

There is an unending debate on the quality (or lack of it) of service rendered by our healthcare system across the country. Where is the problem? Is it an issue of lacking enough skilled personnel to handle all the cases? Are the health centres well-equipped?

Before we start pointing fingers, we should first understand how the healthcare system works. How are patients supposed to be handled from the lower health units before they are given referrals to specialised facilities or experts? What right does a physician have to deny one a referral when the patient does not feel comfortable staying at a given hospital?

Mistakes might have been committed in the past, putting lives at risk. If our referral hospitals have shortcomings, let us point them out and look for a way forward together. Hospital administrators should also be humble and receptive enough to admit when things do not work and correct the mistakes to provide the care we all need and deserve.

If it is lack of specialised facilities or experts, it is against natural justice to deny patients referrals to get treatment elsewhere. You do not lose anything as a hospital since referring cases is a norm in the (medical) practice. It is surprising to learn that some patients wait for referrals for even up to a year.

Institutions that are supposed to protect and prolong life cannot be the very ones seen to endanger it, for whatever reason.

It is in everyone's interest to serve people to the best of our abilities; and where we fall short, let us ask for support.

Remember, what you sow is what you reap. The country cannot realise its dream if the current status quo persists. It might be hard, but let us make an effort and let go of what is beyond our capacity as healthcare providers.

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