BITARE: INCREASING ACCESS TO ESSENTIAL CARE
Though just one example among many, the success and growth of our Health Post in Bitare embodies the mission of OFH. At its opening, demand was so high an additional HP was opened 5 kilometers away to serve the neighboring community.
Owned and operated by Uwandoha Regine a female entrepreneur who previously served as a contract nurse at the Shyorongi Health Centre, the Bitare clinic has since grown to serve more women and children. The clinic now includes two additional nurses, a receptionist and two more consultation rooms in order to effectively treat the 50 patients who come through its doors each day. The HP’s success has allowed it to bring critical services to the community directly, allowing patients greater treatment options previously made unavailable due to proximity.
A patient in the Kamonyi district, where Bitare is located, now travel an average of only 1.5 kilometers (14 minute walk) to reach a clinic. Before its opening, access to such services was only made available after a strenuous 6.5 kilometer (90 minute walk) one-way trip.
Conversations with local officials underscore the importance of providing more comprehensive care and the increasingly vital role the clinic is playing in the community. Officials have requested that Bitare open a lab with microscopes to test for common illnesses such as malaria. By doing so, the HP will be the first among our clinics to provide laboratory services.
The clinic’s continued success reflects both the significant strides we have made and the incredible opportunities that lie ahead in increasing healthcare access among all of Rwanda’s rural population.
There are many stories like Bitare and many more to come.
BUNYONGA: EDUCATING THROUGH INNOVATION
From the moment they open their doors, OFH clinics provide patients with consistent and high-quality care focused on health promotion, disease prevention and the treatment of any number of different illnesses. Clinics reduce the instance of long-term illnesses and treatment costs.
Paving the way is our HP in Bunyonga whose unconventional solutions use have transformed the community it serves.
Surrounding towns are provided with monthly outreach while the clinic provides programming every Thursday with the support of CHWs (Clinical Healthcare Workers).
Programs focus on more traditional aspects of health like understanding the root causes of particular conditions as well as culturally relevant and community-specific issues such as the importance of maintaining hygiene by keeping livestock away from housing.
Outside of clinic walls, the HP also employs more unorthodox methods to increase education around nutrition. In addition to nurses, the Bunyonga HP currently has a gardener on staff. Produce from the garden is shared with patients and used as an opportunity to discuss the importance of healthy eating habits.
According to Mutesiuwera Marie Goreth, a retired nurse from King Faisal Hospital and Bunyonga’s owner, broader improvement in health-seeking behavior is already visible. Anecdotally, people are increasingly becoming more self-reliant and relying less on local remedies for things such as deworming.
These accomplishments are particularly significant given the presence of infrastructural barriers. Though electricity is set to arrive soon, Bunyonga remains off grid and lacks running water.
The clinic is continuously forward in its approach to improving patient health and education. It has already identified continued areas for improvement such as the expansion of its maternal health education services.
Bunyonga serves as a single reminder of the systemic change our clinics can have on the communities we serve and how OneFamilyHealth’s network can enable these innovations to be refined, replicated and scaled across Rwanda and beyond, enabling us to serve an increasingly larger part of the population.
JOSEPH’S STORY: EMPOWERMENT THROUGH ENTREPRENEURSHIP
Current healthcare delivery options aimed at Rwanda’s underserved populations, such as mobile clinics, are often sporadic and inconsistent.
OFH’s entrepreneurial focused model is designed to be a sustainable solution that increases access to care and while enabling highly-qualified nurse-owners to improve their individual economic positions and access to other opportunities.
Our unique strategy has empowered individuals who previously lacked such opportunities while strengthening community-wide health outcomes.
This is particularly true of Joseph, the owner of an HP in Ruhuha, located on the outskirts of the Akagera National Park, in Rwanda’s Eastern province.
Until 2013, Joseph lived with his family in Kigali and worked for a private clinic. When the clinic closed its doors, he began the difficult process of seeking new opportunities that further developed his skills and allowed him to remain in a field he was deeply passionate about.
This unique opportunity came through OFH. Word of mouth from a colleague brought Joseph to our network and our mission and model resonated with him. He immediately wanted to be a Franchisee and saw this opportunity as a chance to be his own boss, assume responsibility for the success and direction of his clinic and be rewarded for the energy and hard work he was prepared to invest.
In June of 2013, after his training was complete, Joseph was offered the HP in Ruhuha.
Joseph has led the clinic’s efforts ever since, skillfully and diligently treating the many patients who visit his clinic daily.
“OneFamilyHealth not only gives entrepreneurial people like me a chance to fill their dreams and potential, but also [helps] our country, which at this point surely needs as many rural health posts as we can get.”
Joseph Rurangira, Head Nurse, Ruhuha Health Post–
“My HP is far away from the main road in a relatively highly populated area. The number of patients each day varies from an average of 35 to 50. August has been less busy than the average month, as CBHI members are deciding whether to renew their memberships and not all are currently covered by insurance and able to use the HP.”
The clinic treats and provides education on a wide variety of diseases and infections, helping to ensure greater preventive care and long-term health.
“The most common causes of disease in this area are intestinal parasites, respiratory infections, and mouth infection, for which I prescribe antibiotics. These infections occur because this is an impoverished area and people don’t have access to toothbrushes or toothpaste. Also, the children have a lot of fungal infections in their heads. These infections are easily transmitted between siblings, since most children share their bedrooms, bed and clothing with others of their family.”
In spite of the hard work and investment required, Joseph has enjoyed being an entrepreneur and benefitted from the different levels of support OFH has offered.
“I am really happy with my Health Post. Of course there are challenges, but being my own boss is a great reward in itself. I am happy with my relationship with the OFH head office staff. I am frequently in touch with the technical representative of Gatsibo, who provides support and ensure things run smoothly for me.”
Much like our larger vision, Joseph envisions increasing the HP’s impact and breadth of services.
“I would like to be able to offer laboratory services, so I could examine the causes of diarrhea and prescribe the best treatment for each case, rather than the generic treatments that I prescribe nowadays.”
As he continues to successfully run his clinic, Joseph is grateful for the opportunity to serve as a community leader in an area he cares deeply about.
“OFH is an excellent project, not only giving entrepreneurial people like myself a chance to fulfill their dreams and potential, but also for our country, which at this point surely needs as many health posts as we can get.”