The University of Maryland School of Nursing is teaming up with nursing, medical, and public health colleges and universities to assist the government of Rwanda in strengthening its health care system. The School is one of 13 top U.S. institutions of higher learning chosen for this unprecedented effort.
Following a competitive recruiting campaign, the School is sending seven faculty members, three of which are alumnae, to Rwanda to assist with the health care efforts. The roster of faculty is headlined by Kathy Schaivone, MPA, (pictured) director, Clinical Education and Evaluation Laboratory. In addition to the University of Maryland School of Nursing, Duke University, Howard University, New York University, and the University of Illinois, Chicago, are all sending nursing faculty to Rwanda.
Rwanda struggles with similar issues as other nations in Africa with limited resources. It not only faces the challenges of AIDS, malaria, malnutrition, and high infant mortality rate, but also more chronic diseases resulting from an aging population and lack of physical activity and proper diet. A better educated nursing workforce will help address these challenges. Rwanda is committed to significantly increasing the number of nurses and midwives with advanced certificates and bachelor's and master's degrees.
Through the Human Resources for Health (HRH) Program, a pioneering initiative led by Rwanda's Ministry of Health and supported by the Clinton Health Access Initiative, a seven-year plan is in place to take on this monumental work.
During this period, the HRH Program will address Rwanda's critical shortage of medical, nursing, and dental workers; poor quality of health professions education; poor infrastructure; and the inadequate management of health facilities. The Rwandan government is receiving funding for this project from the U.S. government comprised of funds from the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief and the U.S. Agency for International Development and the Global Fight Against AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria.
This program, created by Rwandan President Paul Kagame and former U.S. President Bill Clinton, is unique in comparison to past health development projects.
Rwanda's government will manage the HRH Program, contracting with the U.S. schools directly. Participating schools will not charge any general overheads to this program. U.S. faculty will live and work in Rwanda for at least 11 months; though their salaries and benefits will be lower than in the U.S. because this project is meant to primarily serve Rwanda, a resource limited country, rather than U.S. institutions. However, taking part in this project will provide U.S. faculty with a unique educational opportunity.
"Having spent almost two years in Rwanda, I am so pleased to see the University of Maryland's engagement in this important work. The effort to renovate nursing education and practice is fundamentally important, insightful, and an honorable investment," said Marik Moen, MSN, MPH, ACRN, an assistant professor at the School of Nursing and the U.S. Rwandan project coordinator. "Everyone involved will set the stage for transforming how nursing, midwifery, medicine, dentistry, and public health are taught, learned, and practiced. In addition, we are developing a new paradigm for global partnerships to address human resources for health."