Rwanda Focuses on Health Workers to Strengthen COVID-Related Services in 20 Districts

An Ingobyi project health worker in Rwamagana District, Rwanda starts to put on personal protective equipment to care for COVID-19 patients. Photo by Innocent Ishimwe for IntraHealth International.

Health workers in 20 districts throughout Rwanda are making higher-quality health services related to COVID-19 available to more people in their communities, thanks to training through IntraHealth’s USAID-funded Ingobyi project. Together with the Rwanda Ministry of Health, we are improving the quality and accessibility of services related to family planning, maternal and newborn health, as well as malaria prevention and treatment.

“When COVID-19 began to spread in 2020, we had to pivot our preexisting plans and implementation strategies to make sure health workers had the right supplies and training they needed to keep communities safe,” says Samson Radeny, IntraHealth’s country director in Rwanda. “We used a variety of approaches to focus on both health worker response and community sensitization.”

And while the Rwandan government had solid outbreak-response structures in place to protect against the spread of Ebola from neighboring Democratic Republic of the Congo, they needed to quickly bolster and tailor these systems for the COVID-19 pandemic. So the Ingobyi team advised and provided technical assistance to the government to train the country’s health workers, build needed infrastructure, and communicate effectively about COVID-19. Together, we:

  • Trained 280 health workers on COVID-19 case management and care in 26 hospitals.
  • Partnered with 10 radio stations to disseminate messages about COVID-19, malaria, and maternal, newborn, and child health.
  • Trained 514 health workers at 25 supported district hospitals to accurately screen clients for noncommunicable diseases and link positive COVID-19 individuals to the national vaccination program.
  • Provided the Rwanda Ministry of Health with advisors during nationwide mass COVID-19 vaccination campaigns to help plan, coordinate, and supervise the national vaccination activities.
  • Renovated eight COVID-19 isolation facilities and equipped them with the needed items to support management of critically ill patients.
  • Repurposed the Ebola call center to serve as an emergency hotline for COVID-19 information and staffed the call center to provide information for the 84,000 calls per week during the first nationwide lockdown.
  • Procured 500+ pieces of equipment needed by health facilities including digital blood pressure machines, ICU beds, oxygen cylinders, and infusion pumps.
  • Trained 859 hospital staff on infection prevention and control. Of these, five clinical staff from each hospital were validated as mentors and in turn cascaded the same trainings to 325 health center managers, who in turn trained 3,378 health center staff.

Read: Supporting Rwanda’s COVID-19 Response and Mitigating Its Impact on Maternal, Newborn, and Child Health and Malaria Service Delivery

Read more about the Ingobyi team’s most effective approaches and key results in Rwanda:

The Ingobyi project is funded by the US Agency for International Development.