Residents of the three sectors of Rusizi in the west of Rwanda hardly access to health services after the Ambulance broke down four months ago. They travel a total of 59 kilometers from home to the hospital in Mibirizi, under a traditional stretcher, otherwise they spend nine hours waiting for the ambulance.

They live in the Nyamihanda and Rwambogo cells of the Butare sector, Mpinga and Nyamigina cells of the Gikundamvura sector, as well as the Nyabintare cell of the Nyakabuye sector. Approximately 20.520 are served by Nyabitimbo health center in Butare sector.

Previously, transfer cases used the ambulance but today it is down. To reach Nyabitimbo, the patients of Rwambogo and Nyamihanda walk 27 kms, and in case  they are transferred to Mibirizi they add other 32 kms.

Critical patients, pregnant women, are transported in traditional stretchers, because the motorcycle pays 14.000 Frws.

Bad roads contribution

The administration of this Nyabitimbo health center feels the same concerns with patients. One of main causes of the damage to the ambulance is bad roads in this region. It is also worried about this 27-kilometer journey, especially for pregnant women on traditional stretchers, “it is very risky, the uterus often opens while on the path, the women deliver in the way.

Arrived at the health center, they have to wait for the ambulance for nine hours, because it makes interventions over a large area.

According to Epiphany Mukarugira, “the population worries too much, only God helps us to live, if a pregnant woman leaves home on a traditional stretcher, along 27 km, under the rain and or the night, she arrives here tired and has to wait for the ambulance from Mibirizi, 32 kms.

Felix Ngendahimana, a health center statistician, said the vehicle was worn down by bad roads, as it was there since 2008, often making 2 or 3 turns a day. “So far, no one has died along the way, but it could happen, as some women give birth along the way.”

He insists that for transfers, one must wait at least nine hours, “when we call at 6:00, the ambulance arrives at 15:30; and if it is called at 8:00 am, it arrives around 18:00. So imagine for a patient who needs assistance, and often who has spent the night here. It’s a pity, without ambulances, we will have big problems. “

The district can do nothing about it, except the advocacy to MINSANTE. Emmanuel Nsigaye, vice mayor in charge of social affairs, is also waiting like the population, because the district has already informed the ministry of health.

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Jean Baptiste Karegeya


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