I want to begin by commending everyone involved in making the Rwanda Cancer Centre a reality. This facility is a landmark in medical services in Rwanda.
It is not only the first and only radiotherapy centre in Rwanda, it is one of the most advanced in our region.
I wish to thank our partners in this effort, the Global Fund, and PEPFAR, through the United States Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
I also thank UNTEC and its subcontractors for the excellent work in making the centre operational, in conjunction with Rwanda Military Hospital.
I was telling the minister of health a while ago before I came here that they have a lot to learn from UNTEC in terms of construction, and furnishing and equipping our hospitals.
Wherever I go, I see a bit of things that need to be put right. A hospital is a hospital, it is a unique place that has its uniqueness whether it is construction, furniture, and so on. Sometimes you go to a hospital and you don’t know whether it is a hospital. Let me not say too much about that.
I think we can learn and just do things the way they should be done. Put the right things, in the right order, in the right place. I think we need to do that as fast as we can.
The Rwanda Cancer Centre is already saving lives with several hundred patients having been treated. We have been spending large sums of money to send a few patients abroad each year for cancer treatment.
We don’t have a lot of money in the first place, but then large sums of money were being spent treating a few patients but we have many patients to treat. We need to take that into account and that is really the importance of the centre we have here and what we see in the near future as the extension of it to accommodate many other things.
Now, many more Rwandans will be able to get the care they need with their families close by.
With time, the Rwanda Cancer Centre will grow to encompass the full range of diagnostic and treatment services, on both an in-patient and out-patient basis.
Definitely we still have a lot of work to do, but this is the kind of progress we are pursuing in our health care system in general.
Prevention is just as important as cure. There are many things that are being done.
We are educated on many things by the health system, by the doctors and others supporting the health sector. We learn that eating a healthy diet, engaging in sports, and not smoking, are habits that significantly reduce the risk of developing cancer.
We have already started on a number of things and we still have to do more and have more people benefit. Like the car-free day, the exercises that go on at that time, and the care given to people. The numbers are still growing and the more people we have, the better for them and for the whole country.
Really for me, the reason to come here was to associate myself with all of you who have made the realization of this Cancer Centre possible, and also to reiterate that we are doing everything possible within our means.
We hope in the near future we will have the extension of the centre which will see a hospital built here. Things are getting better and we are likely to start building the hospital soon.
We are doing everything possible and we will make sure it happens. This centre is not going to be here in isolation. It will be here with other centres and a hospital that are going to be developed.
And also to thank the people who have worked together to make what we already have possible. That was the reason for me to be here.
I have a different role which actually links me here also. For some reason, I was made responsible for health financing for the African Union. At least before I fulfill my duties for Africa I have to fulfill my duty for Rwanda and I wanted to start from here and then we continue the discussion in other places as well and look for synergies. Work together, Rwanda and other countries on our continent. But most of these things are doable. We just need to focus and utilize well the limited resources we have but also prioritizing. Health is a priority among priorities as far as I know and think. Therefore we want to act like that.
Thank you very much and see you soon for the hospital.