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Rwanda's Health Sector Progress Since Genocide Provides Hope for Nation's Future

April 4, 2014

The Lancet features a public health paper and an editorial on Rwanda's health sector progress since the genocide 20 years ago.

The Lancet: Rwanda 20 years on: investing in life

Agnes Binagwaho, Rwanda's minister of health, Paul Farmer of Harvard Medical School, et al.

" ... The Rwandan Constitution of 2003 formalized the inalienable right to health; by contrast with the decades of violence culminating in the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi, the decision now was to invest in life. ... During the past decade, the platforms designed to scale up HIV interventions have been used to strengthen primary care and to expand a growing package of health services across the country in an equitable way. ... The results of such a health systems approach have been impressive in a country that only 20 years ago lay in ruins. ... Investment in health has stimulated shared economic growth as citizens live longer and with greater capacity to pursue lives they value. The lesson of the post-genocide period for Rwanda -- and for countries around the world hoping for recovery from social upheaval of many kinds -- is that a nation's most precious resource is its people" (4/5).

The Lancet: Rwanda: looking to the future

"Two decades ago, Rwanda lay in ruins following the brutal genocide against the Tutsis. The scars of the massacre seemed too deep to heal for some observers at the time. But, in what has been described as the Rwanda miracle, the country turned its situation around. ... Several factors were crucial to the country's success including governmental leadership, a national development plan that championed health equity, a constitution that formalized the right to health, a community-based national health insurance system, training of community health workers, increases in foreign and domestic spending on health, and successful collaboration with international development partners. ... Rwanda has achieved great successes and can look forward, thanks to remarkable leadership, to continued rewards for the health of its people -- its respect for democracy, human rights, and regional stability will be crucial to its future" (4/5).

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