President Paul Kagame has told the University of Global Health Equity (UGHE) fifth cohort of graduates that the skills they acquired are now more relevant than ever.
Kagame challenged the graduates to use their skills to address the Covid-19 pandemic.
He made the remarks at a ceremony where graduates were awarded with the Masters in Science for Global Health Delivery (MGHD) - the institution's flagship programme - on Sunday, August 9.
The ceremony was held virtually, with invitations extended across the globe to families and friends of the graduates as well as friends and supporters of UGHE's mission.
Some 20 students from twelve countries graduated.
It was the fifth cohort the University has seen pass through its doors since it's opening in 2015, and the second to have experienced the state-of-the-art facilities in its 2019-inaugurated campus in Butaro, Burera District.
President Kagame told graduates who continued their studies and academic projects in the midst of the Covid-19 lockdown that their operation at UGHE enriched everyone. He assured them that Rwanda was them as they set out to implement what they had learned.
The 2020 graduation is the culmination of an intensive year of learning.
The ceremony was also attended by the Chancellor of UGHE and Co-founder and Chief Strategist of Partners in Health, Professor Paul Farmer, who congratulated the graduates and urged them to use their skills to repair the broken and inequitable health systems.
"Our students situate UGHE at the forefront of a collective struggle to advance health equity around the world," Prof. Farmer said.
Already, he added, our graduates are fulfilling the promise of UGHE in diverse parts of the world, and this community of scholar-activists grows every year.
Attending the event, alongside Prof. Farmer was Minister of Health, Dr Daniel Ngamije, the Minister of Education, Dr. Valentine Uwamariya, Governor of Northern Province, Jean Marie Vianney Gatabazi, and other dignitaries from Burera District.
"Covid-19 changes will not affect the quality of education at UGHE"
Prof. Senait Fisseha, Board Member of UGHE and a globally-recognized leader in reproductive health and rights, told the media that the university has done some changes to adapt to the global pandemic but it will not affect, in any way, the world-class quality of education offered at UGHE.
Prof. Fisseha explained that the current Covid-19 pandemic has propelled the shift to virtual and online learning.
"For the new year, we are shifting a lot of the curriculum virtually but it does not mean that the quality will suffer," she said. "In fact, it is an unprecedented opportunity for innovation and to continue looking for ways to tackle this challenge."
Prof. Agnes Binagwaho, reiterated the point that UGHE graduates have learned from the pandemic and are equipped with the tools to both prepare for, and effectively respond to future outbreaks with a focus on equity.
"Over the last five months, our graduates were able to learn on the frontline a country's successful handling of such Covid-19, as well as how UGHE remained functional while preventing the spread of disease and protecting everyone's health in an inclusive manner. With such examples, they are ready to face future crises, and protect the communities they will serve," she said.
Contributing to the fight against Covid-19
MGHD alumni have been at the forefront of the Covid-19 response efforts in testing, tracing and training community health workers to disseminate key prevention messaging within their respective communities.
In an interview with The New Times, Dr Ngamije said that furthering the fight against the pandemic, Rwanda needs skilled workers to dispersedly work across the country.
Dr Ngamije congratulated the graduates and welcomed their contribution to the fight against Covid-19.