On May 7, 2018 Society for Family health captured a glimpse of the life of Francis Rukataza (65), a resident of Rwempasha, Nyagatare, Rwanda. Francis is one of the 3,000 residents who have lived without a nearby health post until SC Johnson family business made a donation.
“Imagine living in a location where you have to walk for six hours to and from the nearest health clinic to seek for medical attention”, he set the scene for us.
“This has been my way of life for more than 24 years: I have seen people collapse or die while going to the nearest health center many kilometers away. Now imagine how I felt when I learned a family from America had donated this health post”, he paused.
“So, what brings you here?” we interjected.
“I went to a barber who cut my upper lip with unsterilized shaving gadget. I developed an unpleasant allergic reaction requiring immediate medical attention, that’s why I am here”, he looked up for the first time, touched his swollen lip to signal his pain.
“I was here when we launched this health post. I knew one day I’d use it but didn’t know it would be this soon”, he shook his head as he looked through the window, avoiding eye contact.
“This health post will provide health services to two schools with over 400 students each: Bweya and Gichwamba primary school” Rutakaza volunteered more information. His sentiments of gratitude were repeated over and over again.
For Grentille Mukaniyonshuti (23), it was all smiles. “I used to go to Rwempasha health center, where it took me four hours to and from the clinic. Today I took five minutes to come here. I cannot explain the joy of knowing this Health post will be with me for many years to come”, she whispered as she attended to her one-year old son who was waiting for medical attention.
“Do you know who donated funds to construct this health post?” we asked Grentile. “No, she replied, but I hear it is a good Samaritan from America”.
“His name is Dr Herbet Fisk Johnson III, what should we tell him?” we informed her and waited for her reaction to our question.
“Tell him I’m very happy – I now have a health post five minutes away from my house”, Grentille said with a sigh of relief.
As with Grentille, for Adeliphine Uwamaliya, the prospects of being attended to by a professional was a dream come true: “It feels good to come to this health post knowing I am going to be served by a professional. In the past, I had to consult with people in a neighboring country whose competency I did not trust”, Adeliphine informed us.
“How did you get to know about the health post?”, we asked her.
“It was through the word of mouth” she replied.
“I used to walk for three hours to and from Rwempasha health center, today I walked only for one hour”, she added excitedly. “What is your message to the donor of this facility?”, we asked. Adeliphine looked in the ceiling as if she was reconstructing her thoughts.
We met David Imaniraguha (44), who introduced himself as married to Venuste Ngahire and blessed with six children. David is a CHW and has worked in the area for the last six years.
“What does this health post mean to you?” we asked.
“I am happy because it brings health services closer to people; I used to take 3 hours to Tabagwe health center, now it takes me only 1 hour”. He adjusted his seat and continued:
“this health post will serve 3,500 local community members located in six villages. The main diseases here are malaria, diarrhea and respiratory diseases. Patients do travel long distances for treatment. I am glad this will be a memory of the past”, David concluded with a sign of satisfaction.
We also met Everiste Habyarimana (46), married to Shauri Glorias. He has seven children, three girls and four boys. Everiste has lived in Gishuro sector all his life, where he has worked as a CHW for seven years. For him the benefits for the health post are: patients who test negative for malaria will be referred to a nearer health unit for further examination, this will cut down on transport costs.
“This place will be good for vaccination campaigns and hopefully we will achieve 100% success rate in the neighboring communities”, Everiste made a summary.
It was 6.00pm when we got to talk with CLAUDE KIBINGIRA (30). Claude works at Tabagwe health center as a nurse and has been seconded to Gishiro health center. “What are the main diseases around here” we asked him.
“It used to be malaria, but this has reduced. Now we have increased respiratory diseases and diarrhea. At Tabagwe health center, we get an average of 120 people daily” he gave a synopsis of the nearby health center.
“How was your day at this health post?” I attended to ten people; nine had Gastritis and one had trauma. People are very appreciative for the service. Indeed, bringing health service closer to people is the best health care that a nation can offer to its people.
As we walked out of the health post, we met Jean Marie Ainee Mukasekuru who has worked in Gishuro for ten years as social worker.
“What are people saying about this health post?” we asked her.
“They recognize the fact that health services have been brought closer to them; transportation costs have reduced; people are seeking medical services promptly rather than postponing until it is very late; and the number of people making the decision to go for treatment across the border in private clinics has reduced” Mukasekuru enumerated without hesitation.
We were informed by Theogene Nteziryayo, Executive Secretary of the Cell, and Dan Mugisha, Head of the Tabagwe health center that as a way of thanksgiving, a special Umuganda was organized to bring the community together on May Wednesday 9, 2018 to perform general cleanliness around the health post. Dan informed us that the health post at Gishiro started its operation on May 4, 2018. To a visitor one would have thought the mark of the health post had been in existence for a much longer time.