19 February 2019

Rwanda: Senators Call for Use of Data to Fix Health Sector Gaps

Statistics from Integrated Living Conditions Survey (EICV 5) published in December 2018 by the National Institute of Statistics of Rwanda exposed gaps in the country's health sector, despite the significant steps that have been taken to boost the sector.

On Monday, senators on the standing committee on social affairs met Yussuf Murangwa, the Director General of NISR, to discuss how the statistics in the report can be used to pluck the gaps that were found in the health sector.

During the meeting, Senator Gallican Niyongana, the chairperson of the committee, sought the view of the statisticians on whether the growing economy reflected the priorities of the health sector.

"Statistics show that there is major progress in the health sector in the past years but we know that there are still some areas where people are not satisfied and improvement is needed," he said.

Senator Jean Damascene Ntawukuriryayo said it is not enough to appreciate the fact that the situation has improved in the health sector, calling for a critical assessment of areas that still require more effort to fix, including the long distances still made by Rwandans to access health facilities.

According to EICV 5, on average, Rwandans walk 50 minutes to the health centre and, according to Ntawukuriryayo, more investment can go a long way to reduce this distance.

"In 2003 a target was set to ensure that every sector has at least one health centre. Recently, we asked the Ministry of Local Government and we were given a vague response (to the fact) that health centres are more than the sectors we have in Rwanda. However, it doesn't mean that every sector has a health centre," he said.

Murangwa said satisfaction in health services stands at 82 per cent among high income earners while among low income earners, the satisfaction rate stands at 88 per cent.

Public satisfaction depends on many things; for instance, effort put in primary healthcare which has worked better for majority Rwandans, especially those living in rural areas, said Murangwa.

"However, people in cities need specialised services and, therefore, they are not satisfied with what they get at health centres and hospitals," he added.

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