It has been almost 3 weeks since we arrived in Kigali and I haven’t posted a single blog about Rwandan medicine. I had BIG intentions to fly halfway around the world to a developing nation and save all of the suffering people. Now that I am here, I realize how silly that is. It’s in my nature to get somewhere and want to do do do, rather than to be. I’m learning that I should take these months to be close to the Lord in the stillness of my eager hands.
Last week I had the great opportunity to tour King Faisal Hospital. It’s the fancy-pants hospital of the country and likely one of the best in the entire continent. Dr. Alex is a senior physician at KFH and gave me a very thorough tour (he’s a pretty big deal). The first part of the tour was to the nation’s pride and joy – the radiology department. As it turns out, they have the same equipment that we do in the US. It’s pretty and shiny and new. The only difference is that they have 1 MRI machine, 1 CT scan, 1 ultrasound machine, and 1 x-ray machine… for 11 million people. I expected them to be in constant use, 24 hours a day, with a line of people waiting for their turn for imaging, but they’re not. That morning there was one person being imaged. The people here just can’t afford the luxury of a plain x-ray, let alone an MRI scan.
Next we went to the other departments: Med/Surg (which was mostly used for patients with malaria or those using one of the 6 hemodialysis machines in the country); NICU (which has a fantastic monitoring system…for one baby); Labor & Delivery; Physical Therapy; ICU; Emergency (which is so quiet compared to the ERs I’ve been in - no monitors beeping or people yelling at each other); & Outpatient (family medicine and pediatrics for people who are willing to spend a couple of dollars to avoid the street clinics). The only department I didn’t go into was the surgical suite.
There are 3 types of patient rooms – private, semiprivate (2 beds, 1 bathroom), and not-private-at-all (10 beds, gender-specific community bathrooms down the hall).
Each bed comes with a mosquito net and a curtain to separate you from your neighbor. All of the staff speaks English.
I know what I just described to you sounds really nice – and by all African standards it most certainly is - but even the nicest medical center in Rwanda is enough to make any American doe-eyed. I was invited to spend some time shadowing Dr. Alex at KFH, so I’m going to take a few hours each day this coming week and learn from someone who practices the kind of medicine that isn’t watered down with machines and prescription pads.
(I don't have a picture of the hospital yet, so I've attached one of a hillside of Rwandan homes.)