Kibungo Referral Hospital has said that a combination of a shortage of medical specialists and dysfunctional ambulances is hurting delivery of healthcare services in Ngoma District.
The hospital, which is supposed to serve more than 400,000 residents of Ngoma and beyond, has only two specialists and three ambulances.
Yet in order to function well, according to hospital management, it requires 11 medical specialists, and at least 12 ambulances to transport patients from 15 health centres operating in the district.
Dr William Namanya, the Director-General of the hospital, said that the shortage of specialists was the reason many patients from the district were still being transferred to Kigali.
"It is a blessing to have two major hospitals in the province, Kibungo Referral Hospital and Rwamagana Provincial Hospital. Residents in this province would be getting good services without having to make long journeys to Kigali Military Hospital, CHUCK or elsewhere... ," he said.
"If every service department is given two specialists there would not be that many referrals to Kigali."
The hospital has 12 ambulances but nine of them broke down.
"Our ambulances are too old to return on the road. Patients might lose lives because of lack of ambulances to transport them," he pointed out.
Contacted for a comment, Ngoma District Mayor Aphrodise Nambaje said they were not aware that the ambulances were not functioning, but promised to fix them.
He said buying new ones would take long.
Speaking at a provincial meeting recently, Dr Patrick Ndimubanzi, the Minister of State in charge of Public Health and Primary Health Care, said the shortage of medical specialists was a national issue, adding that government was working on addressing the issue.
"Currently there are 300 who are in school. This year, 71 are finalising their studies. They will be deployed in hospitals around the country," he said.
As for ambulances, Ndimubanzi said there 250 ambulances in the whole country.
"But one thing we have decided is that every district will buy at least one ambulance every year. You will consider this in your budget planning, as a district, or even a hospital," he revealed.
Service delivery is a key element in the evaluation of health facilities when seeking for an upgrade.
Kibungo Referral Hospital is at level three. The hospital is seeking for an upgrade and international accreditation.