Reading Recommendations

Partners In Health Rwanda: Lessons In Eliminating Barriers To Quality Care

Published by Forbes on 26 March 2020

By William A. Haseltine

Image credit: Getty Images

“In late February, Dr. Krishna Reddy, Country Director of ACCESS Health India, and I traveled to Rwanda to learn more about health systems strengthening from an organization that has proven itself to be a formidable leader in the field: Partners in Health and the affiliated University Global Health Equity….

… Partners In Health and ACCESS Health have a lot in common, particularly when it comes to our mission, core values, and desired impact. We are looking forward to future opportunities to coordinate and collaborate on projects that help us deliver care to people no matter where they live, and no matter what their age.”

Read the full article here: https://www.forbes.com/sites/williamhaseltine/2020/03/26/partners-in-health-in-rwanda-lessons-in-eliminating-barriers-to-quality-healthcare/#1e5c54101265

The difference between gender equity and equality—and why it matters

Published by Fortune on 25 March 2020

By Agnes Binagwaho

Image credit: STEPHANIE AGLIETTI/AFP via Getty Images)

“The theme of this year’s International Women’s Day was centered around the notion that “[a]n equal world is an enabled world.” Indeed, there has been global progress toward a world that has gender equality; nearly 68% of the countries (101 of 149) included in the World Economic Forum’s latest Global Gender Gap Report showed improvements in their scores for gender parity for 2019. 

But despite this progress, education is one of many areas in which men and women are still not equally enabled. So while the world is close to reaching gender parity in terms of access to primary education, girls still face more obstacles to their education than boys in low- and middle-income countries. Laws may enable girls to attend school, but in many countries there are still other barriers limiting girls’ education, such as families prioritizing boys’ education and cultural beliefs that girls should be limited to a future of raising children…

… Today, our global society still has 10 years left to reach the goal of gender equality set by the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. To achieve this, it is time for all of us to shift from an equality to equity agenda and ensure that all are actively promoting and supporting women, in education and in all aspects of life. Only then can an equal and truly enabled world be achieved.”

Read the full article here: https://fortune.com/2020/03/25/gender-equality-and-equity-iwd-womens-education/

Opinion: The anti-virus to global epidemics? Strengthen the health systems

Published by Devex on 25 March 2020

By Alice Bayingana and Miriam Frisch

Image credit: Lim Huey Teng/Reuters

“Three months into the COVID-19 outbreak, we are starting to see history repeat itself. Just as the Ebola outbreak in 2014-16 took an enormous toll on Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea, where more than 11,000 lives were lost, this new disease is quickly spreading around the world.

The Ebola outbreak in West Africa was significant, not only due to deaths from the disease but because it exacted harm to the health system’s ability to respond to even the most basic of needs within the country, with a huge loss in the health care workforce. Today we have seen similar breakdowns of health systems due to COVID-19 beyond treatment of the disease…

… It has become clearer now more than ever that global health is truly the responsibility of each one of us.”

Read the full article here: https://www.devex.com/news/opinion-the-anti-virus-to-global-epidemics-strengthen-the-health-systems-96790

Rwanda is training health workers for an interconnected world

Published by The Conversation on 23 February 2020

By Phaedra Henley

Image credit: Shutterstock

“Growing scientific evidence shows that environmental transformations such as climate change and pollution are linked to people’s health. The number of extreme events is increasing, often driven by human activities, and they often pose an immediate threat as well as having long-term health impacts. This is a future for which health professionals must be prepared…

… The interdependency between humans, animals and the environment is becoming more pronounced. It’s time to approach health problems in a broad, interdisciplinary way. The attitudes and practices of the health workforce will have to change.”

Read the full article here: https://theconversation.com/rwanda-is-training-health-workers-for-an-interconnected-world-131788?utm_term=Autofeed&utm_medium=Social&utm_source=Twitter#Echobox=1582508241

Lessons from Rwanda on how trust can help repair a broken health system.

Published by The Conversation on 30 September 2019

By Agnes Binagwaho and Miriam Frisch

“Seven countries around the world – three of them in Africa – have made faster than expected progress over the past 15 years in reducing deaths among children younger than five. These seven countries, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Ethiopia, Nepal, Peru, Rwanda and Senegal, were selected because they have all performed unexpectedly well in improving childhood health relative to their economic growth.

There are many factors at the root of their achievements, most notably, a strong integrated and coordinated health system built on primary health care. However, one cross-cutting factor stands out that we believe allowed them all to achieve significant health gains but which, so far, tends to be always overlooked: trust.”

Read the full article here: https://theconversation.com/lessons-from-rwanda-on-how-trust-can-help-repair-a-broken-health-system-124183

A Medical School for The Future that Africa Needs.

Published by Devex on 12 September 2019

By Agnes Binagwaho and Miriam Frisch

“The vision of achieving “health for all” by 2030 is gaining political support across the developing world. More and more leaders recognize the imperative of investing in health at a time when every $1 invested in health in developing countries can produce up to $4 in benefits annually.

But one of the challenges in realizing the goal of universal health coverage in Africa — which would ensure that everyone has access to quality, affordable health care — is the need to rapidly scale up the health care workforce.

Although Africa accounts for 24% of the global burden of disease, it has only 3% of the global health workforce. Shortages of health workers at the national level are exacerbated by severe imbalances in their distribution within countries, especially between rural and urban areas.”

Read the full article here: https://www.devex.com/news/opinion-a-medical-school-for-the-future-that-africa-needs-95527

Creating Space for New Leaders with Dr Agnes Binagwaho

Published by Amplify on 12 July 2019

By Samia Kemal

“The first time I met Dr. Agnes Binagwaho, Vice Chancellor of the University of Global Health Equity (UGHE) and former Minister of Health of Rwanda, I was at Yale University for Global Health Corps’ Training Institute. After myriad sessions on leadership development, diversity, the equity agenda, and more, I began to re-evaluate my career in communications; did these buzzwords hold any tangible value in my life?

Dr. Agnes Binagwaho’s words were the first to cut through the noise: “there are no complex solutions, only complex excuses.”

In sitting down with Dr. Agnes, I wanted to further understand the challenges that women in the health sector face. From Vice Chancellor to Physician to Minister to Professor to Senior Advisor, Dr. Agnes has held various leadership positions and is well-known in the global health world for her work in strengthening health systems. Now, she’s chairing the International Conference Committee for the 2019 Women Leaders in Global Health conference to be hosted by UGHE in Kigali, Rwanda (November 9–10). After a year of working within her organization, I was curious about what advice she’d have for a young professional like myself.”

Read the full article here: https://medium.com/amplify/creating-space-for-new-leaders-with-dr-agnes-binagwaho-5b9c641cf460

Next Steps Towards Universal Health Coverage Call for Global Leadership

Published by BMJ on 24 May 2019

“Gerald Bloom and colleagues argue that the G20 is uniquely placed to facilitate crucial actions to accelerate progress towards universal health coverage

Universal health coverage (UHC) has been identified as a priority for international development by the G20, the World Health Organization, and the United Nations General Assembly. Since it was explicitly incorporated into the sustainable development goals (SDGs) as target 3.8, much effort has been expended on promoting UHC. Here we focus on four areas that, on current trajectories, are unlikely to achieve sufficient progress to meet the target. These are also areas for which G20 can provide substantial leverage: the principle of “leaving no one behind,” particularly in migrant health and genuine support for primary care; reliable domestic financing, which requires enlightened leadership and deliberate dialogue between finance and health sectors; harnessing and regulating medical and technological innovation; and mutual learning and harmonised aid among donor countries. We call on G20 leaders, who will meet in Osaka in June 2019, to take concrete action on these issues.

This article is based on a policy brief prepared by a working group convened by the Government of Japan as host of the Think 20 summit in Tokyo in May 2019. Our work has received input from a wide ranging global group of thought leaders, some of whom represent civil society, including patients and the general public.”

Read the full article here: https://www.bmj.com/content/365/bmj.l2107

How Rwanda Could Be the First Country to Wipe out Cervical Cancer

Published by Mosaic on May 7 2019

By Sophie Cousins

Image credit: Shonagh Rae at Heart Agency

“Girls began queuing at their local school with their friends, waiting for their names to be called. Many were apprehensive. After all, most of them had not had a vaccination since they were babies. It was 2013 and a new vaccine had arrived in Kanyirabanyana, a village in the Gakenke district of Rwanda. Reached by a reddened earth road, the village is surrounded by rolling hills and plantations growing crops from bananas to potatoes. Unlike the 10 vaccines already offered to young children as part of the country’s immunisation programme, this vaccine was different: it was being offered to older girls, age 11–12, in the final year of primary school.

Three years before, Rwanda had decided to make preventing cervical cancer a health priority. The government agreed a partnership with pharmaceutical company Merck to offer Rwandan girls the opportunity to be vaccinated against human papillomavirus (HPV), which causes cervical cancer…

… Rwanda’s decision to partner with Merck wasn’t without its critics. In a scathing letter to the Lancet, German public health researchers voiced “serious doubts” that the HPV programme was “in the best interest of the people”. A major issue, they contended, was that while the burden of cervical cancer in the region was substantial, there were far more pressing diseases to vaccinate against, such as tetanus and measles.

Rwanda’s then Minister of Health, Agnes Binagwaho, replied publicly in a letter co-signed by two US researchers. They said that Rwanda already had very high vaccination rates for tetanus and measles, and asked: “Are the 330,000 Rwandan girls who will be vaccinated against a highly prevalent, oncogenic virus for free during the first phase of this programme not regarded as ‘the people’?”

Read the full article here: https://mosaicscience.com/story/rwanda-cervical-cancer-hpv-vaccine-gardasil-cervarix/

How Bill and Melinda Gates Are Transforming Life for Billions in the 21st Century

Published by Fortune on April 18, 2019

By Clifton Leaf

Image credit: Spencer Lowell

The Gates Foundation is transforming the lives of billions of people—but it wouldn’t be the force it has become without the distinctive visions of the couple behind it. …

… If Bill’s superpower is speaking truth to the mighty, Melinda’s may well be hearing the truth of the unmighty—and then internalizing and sharing that secret, often brutally repressed wisdom. For a generally soft-toned speaker, her voice has the command of a church bell. But those who know her say her truly uncanny talent is simply the ability to listen….

The argument for optimism has some awfully good evidence in Rwanda. A quarter-century after a genocide tore the already poor East African country apart, Rwanda is a case study in what’s possible. Led by physician Agnes ­Binagwaho, the nation’s former health minister, and others, Rwanda has steadily invested in health infrastructure, primary care, massive childhood vaccination, and maternal health.”

Read the full article here: https://fortune.com/longform/bill-melinda-gates-worlds-greatest-leaders/

The Road Ahead for US Foreign Aid to Africa

Published by the Aspen Ideas Festival Blog on June 18, 2018

By Agnes Binagwaho

In this blog post, I offer my recommendations for the US entities who provide aid to sub-Saharan Africa, as part of my speaking engagement in the Our Planet, Our Health track at Spotlight Health at the Aspen Ideas Festival.

“Africa was a continent once deemed “hopeless” by the US media. Sub-Saharan Africa, in particular, was condemned to an endless cycle of poverty, starvation, and tragedies. Yet in the past 10 years, the region has undergone major transformations thanks to home-grown solutions and outside support. Sub-Saharan Africa’s rise is due to interconnected factors including growing economies, efficient governments, and focused foreign development support, through both governmental and non-profit investment.”

Read the full article here: https://www.aspenideas.org/blog/road-ahead-us-foreign-aid-africa

Phil’s Speech at the Inauguration of the Ambulatory Cancer Center Inauguration of Butaro

July 12, 2018

Bio Sketch:

Phil Garrity joined the Partners In Health staff in Boston in 2011 after volunteering with PIH’s sister organization in Peru. As program coordinator on the Monitoring, Evaluation, and Quality team, he helps to measure and evaluate PIH programs to demonstrate the success of the PIH model and improve quality of care. Last August, Phil was unexpectedly diagnosed with osteosarcoma, a rare and aggressive bone cancer, and began a nine-month treatment program that included chemotherapy and surgery at Dana Farber Cancer Institute and the Brigham and Women’s Hospital. His experience as both a patient and provider, one that has taken him from world-class hospitals to rural Africa, sheds light on the invaluable worth of promoting life, no matter the cost.


I’d like to express my gratitude for being here and for the invitation to participate in the inauguration of such a beautiful and urgently needed facility. It’s humbling to be standing up here for many reasons, but I’ll share one: I’m often at a loss when I wonder what gives me much of any legitimacy in sharing my story. Granted, I’m careful not to downplay the very real challenge I faced this past year—for I can imagine few trials more physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually demanding than cancer treatment, of laying waste to one’s own body in the hope of saving it—but it’s important to give context to my battle, especially as I reflect on it from a place far different than Boston.It says something that within two weeks of presenting with some minor joint pain last August, I received an MRI, a CT scan, a biopsy, a diagnosis, a treatment plan, and chemotherapy, all in a few 5-star hotels known as the Dana Farber Cancer Institute and the Brigham and Women’s Hospital. It is no exaggeration to say that these institutions have cancer care down to a science, and not just in a technical sense. To think of the myriad comforts and conveniences of such state-of-the-art hospitals, and to weigh that against the brutality of my own treatment, leaves me rather speechless as I stand here today in the midst of patients and providers who wage this battle every day in a setting far less forgiving.And while it’s difficult to compare my experience with those of the remarkable patients and survivors here at Butaro Hospital, I believe I can relate on a very basic level: I know what it means to be sick, and gravely so. A professor of liberation theology at Boston College, Roberto Goizueta, recently told me that he understands poverty to be more than a matter of material privation; the poor, he says, are those who simply cannot take life for granted. And the sick, very often, are among them. Illness experiences offer us a chance to see life through the lens of poverty, to illuminate our vulnerability as well as our interdependence with others and the world. Through these experiences, our humanity is revealed as a continual act of letting go, if only of our sense of entitlement to a life over which we so desperately claim ownership, a life that we so often take for granted. And at the very least, I know that this experience has made it more difficult for me to do that. I know that there is something worse than receiving a cancer diagnosis at twenty-four: chemotherapy. (I can assure you, even now, it makes me a little nauseated to look at that beautiful infusion center). But what is worse than that? Getting a cancer diagnosis and not getting chemotherapy. And even worse, even more humiliating, than that? Not getting a cancer diagnosis. This last scenario is, sadly, the fate for countless millions in our world, a world in which people are relegated to die, like their diseases, in anonymity.  I can say without hesitation that I am lucky to have been given my diagnosis, to have had 18 rounds of toxins pumped into my body, to have lost 30 pounds and all of my hair, to have had much of my leg replaced with metal. I am lucky to have had the chance to nearly die so that I might live.I think there’s a very profound metaphor here. Cancer treatment shows us what we as humans are willing to do to protect and promote life. It shows us to what extraordinary lengths we will go, what incredible sacrifices we will make, in order to honor and venerate the life given to us. The simple (or not so simple) act of defying conventional wisdom and bringing world-class cancer care to rural Africa is a testament to this deep respect and radical commitment. To the naysayers, the pragmatists, the “reasonable” ones, we ask: Who are you to say this shouldn’t or can’t be done? That it is too costly, too difficult, too bold? As we’ve seen, and as we are beginning to show the world, it’s not only fair, it’s feasible.I am incredibly proud to be part of a global community of courageous, compassionate people who spend their lives committed to the humbling yet ennobling work of living out our reverence for life. I thank all of you for advancing this life-saving work, for giving my life back to me in so many ways, and for allowing me to give my story back to you.

GCSP Hosts the event “One Health One Planet. Environment and Health in the Human Security Agenda.”

Published by Geneva Center for Security Policy on May 31 2018

“On 22 May 2018, the Geneva Centre for Security Policy (GCSP), in partnership with the University of Global Health Equity (Rwanda), organized an event under the title: ‘One Health, One Planet. Environment and Health in the Human Security Agenda’.

The panel was moderated by Mr Bruno Jochum, former director of Médecins sans Frontières (MSF) and an Executive-in-Residence within the GCSP. The panelists included Dr Stephane de la Rocque, Head of the One Health Team in the Health Emergency program of WHO, Dr Desiree Montecillo-Narvaez, Programme Officer in UN Environment Programme (UNEP) as well as  Dr Agnes Binagwaho, Vice Chancellor of the University of Global Health Equity, former Minister of Health of Rwanda.”

Landmark Studies in Rwanda, Madagascar Show Success for Universal Care Model

Published by Partners in Health on May 16, 2018

“BOSTON (May 16, 2018): Deaths of children under 5 have dropped by nearly 20 percent in just two years in a poor, rural district in Madagascar—despite the island nation’s lowest health spending in the world. This transformation echoes the strength of results charted across the last decade in rural Rwanda, where under 5 mortality dropped 60 percent between 2005 and 2010 in Southern Kayonza and Kirehe districts. Both sets of results were products of a grassroots health system movement founded on principles of public partnership, data science, and universal access to care for all.  … Professor Agnes Binagwaho is senior author on the Rwanda study, having served as the Rwanda Minister of Health from 2011 through 2016. “Through Rwanda’s commitment to a universal right to health, we have continued to witness transformation that has rendered our country’s health system an example for not only Africa, but for the world,” she said. “We embrace the shared vision and work of our partners in Madagascar. Together, we can pave the way to inclusive health systems that advance equity and health for all people.” Prof. Binagwaho is currently on the faculties of both Harvard and Dartmouth Medical Schools, and is the Vice Chancellor of the University of Global Health Equity, a new Rwanda-based university that trains global health professionals from across the globe.”  

Read the full article here: https://www.pih.org/press/landmark-studies-rwanda-madagascar-show-success-universal-care-model

New management training for immunization leaders launches in Rwanda

Published by Yale News on May 15, 2018

“This is an unprecedented opportunity,” said Erika Linnander, director of the Yale Global Health Initiative (GHLI), during her opening remarks at the recent launch in Kigali, Rwanda of a new immunization program. “I see such an exceptionally diverse group here today to help support this program — nurses, managers, policymakers, government officials, development partners, physicians, and educators. This coming together in support of improved management and leadership is fundamental to the achievement of global health targets.” …

“Thoughtful leadership and effective management practices are necessary to strategically and equitably improve health systems, including making sure vaccines reach children in every corner of the world,” said UGHE Vice Chancellor Dr. Agnes Binagwaho. “By hosting this forum in Rwanda, participants will train in an environment that prepares them to both address delivery challenges, as well as inspire them to improve access to high quality care.”

Read the full article here: https://news.yale.edu/2018/05/15/new-management-training-immunization-leaders-launches-rwanda

Words of Wisdom from African Women Moving the World Forward

Published by MasterCard Foundation on April 9, 2018

By Shona Bezanson

“When African women come together to discuss transformative leadership, one can’t help but feel amazed, inspired and energized. TheAfrican Women’s Leadership Conference recently hosted by Wellesley College provided seasoned African women leaders with an opportunity to share their leadership journeys with the continent’s emerging young women leaders….

Dr. Agnes Binagwaho, a pioneer and activist in the global public health sector shone a light on gender inequity at all levels of global health. She also shared her newest project — the University of Global Health Equity, in Rwanda — a revolutionary model of health care provision that puts equity at the center. She told us: ‘find your passion. Fight for it. Be ready to die for it. It gives you life.’”

Read the full article here: http://www.mastercardfdn.org/words-of-wisdom-from-african-women-moving-the-world-forward/

African Women on Top

Published by Project Syndicate on March 8, 2018

By Shona Bezanson and Peter Materu

“TORONTO – Africa has a long history of female leadership. Yet leadership can be a challenging aspiration for the continent’s young women, owing to enduring barriers to success. If African countries – and Africa’s women – are to meet their potential, this must change… Former Rwandan Minister of Health Agnes Binagwaho has dedicated her career to achieving equitable access to health care in her country and beyond.”

Read the full article here: https://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/nurturing-african-women-leaders-by-shona-bezanson-and-peter-materu-2018-03?barrier=accesspaylog

Rwanda has Universal Health Care – and it’s Working

Published by BLKHLTH on February 28, 2018

By Paulah Wheeler

“‘It gives relief to people knowing that if you get sick, you don’t need to have a lot of money,’ said Dr. Agnes Binagwaho, the former Minister of Health who turned health in Rwanda around with her belief that health care is a human right for all. ‘It gives you psychological stability so you can concentrate on something else. The money can be used for other things – this is very important in trying to stimulate economic development.’”

Read the full article here: https://www.blkhlth.com/blog/2018/2/28/defining-moments-and-figures-in-the-history-of-black-health

2017: The Year in Quotes

Published by Partners In Health on Dec 18, 2017

A view of Chiapas, Mexico. Photo by Cecille Joan Avila / Partners In Health.

“Inspiration in a sentence—that’s what we were looking for as we sifted through our stories about Partners In Health in 2017. Like any round-up, this collection of quotes falls short of conveying the breadth and depth of all that was accomplished this year. PIH staff saw 1.5 million patients in clinics and hospitals, never mind the hundreds of thousands consulted in their homes. But hopefully these few quotes, chosen for their pithiness, hint at one important aspect of the work: our deep gratitude for the chance to serve such amazing people.…‘The more our students are spread across the world to serve vulnerable populations, the more we will be able to change the world.’—Dr. Agnes Binagwaho, vice chancellor of PIH’s University of Global Health Equity in Rwanda, on her hope for graduates”

Read the full article here: https://www.pih.org/article/2017-year-quotes

Vice Chancellor Agnes Binagwaho Inducted to the National Academy of Medicine

Published by the University of Global Health Equity on October 19, 2017

From left to right: Academic Director Sarah Trent, Vice Chancellor Dr. Agnes Binagwaho, Director of University Operations Jarrett Collins, and daughter of Dr. Binagwaho and MGHD Class of 2018 student Injonge Karangwa. Photo from Sarah Trent.

“Washington, D.C. (October 14, 2017) — Vice Chancellor of the University of Global Health Equity (UGHE), former Minister of Health of Rwanda and global health champion Agnes Binagwaho, MD, M(Ped), PhD has been inducted to the National Academy of Medicine (NAM), an esteemed society of over two thousand distinguished contributors to the advancement of health and medicine.”

Read more here: https://ughe.org/national-academy-medicine/

Bending the Arc, Partners in Health Documentary

October 6, 2017

This is a documentary that I was a part of along with Paul Farmer, Ophelia Dahl and Jim Kim Yong which talks about the work of Partners in Health, using Rwanda as an example and looking at the  progress that has been made in health.Directed by: Kief Davidson and Pedro KosProduced by: Cori Shepherd Stern, Executive Producers – Matt Damon and Ben AffleckScreened at: Sundance Film Festival, Miami International Film Festival and San Francisco Film FestivalAwards: Best Documentary Feature Film at the Greenwich International Film Festival (2017)

Watch the trailer here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OjJmWZrmpcE

Find screening Information here: http://bendingthearcfilm.com/screenings/

Social Media Saves Lives and Makes the World Better

Published by Techonomy on September 18th, 2017

By Agnes Binagwaho

Social media in Africa and all over the world is a critical tool to improve healthcare. Courtesy of Shutterstock.

“Social media is not just for fun, socializing, and commerce. Recent innovations, such as how conversations on Twitter have advanced the debate about global health, the use of Twitter and Facebook to register the satisfaction of medical patients, and many others, should change our preconceptions. More and more, these digital platforms are showing their value as vital agents in communication, saving lives, and serving as vehicles for advocacy and campaigning. It is leading to more efficacy and efficiency in human development and in global health. Such platforms facilitate health management, the exchange of ideas on a global scale, and improve the outcomes of actions as practitioners, experts, and ordinary people share experiences.”

Read the full article here: https://techonomy.com/2017/09/social-media-saves-lives-makes-world-better/

The secret behind Rwanda’s successful vaccination rollouts

Published by The Conversation on August 10, 2017

By Agnes Binagwaho

Rwandan girls were targeted in the country’s successful HPV vaccination programme. Shutterstock

“The best medical treatment option in the world can’t save a single patient unless it is delivered at the proper time, with the proper plans and processes in place. That’s why implementation science for health matters.”

Read more here: https://theconversation.com/the-secret-behind-rwandas-successful-vaccination-rollouts-82014

University of Global Health Equity’s Contribution to the Reduction of Education and Health Services Rationing

Published by International Journal of Health Policy and Management on July 9, 2017

This is a video summary made by the International Journal of Health Policy and Management (IJHPM) in which I explain what the University of Global Health Equity brings to health education and how we aim to help the poor and those living in rural areas.

Read the full article here: http://www.ijhpm.com/article_3371.html

Watch the full video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yq1ngoa0zUE

Dr. Agnes Binagwaho Appointed Commissioner for the Task Force on Global Advantage

Published by the University of Global Health Equity on June 30, 2017

Dr. Agnes Binagwaho (left) visits Butaro District Hospital with representatives of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Inshuti Mu Buzima. Photo by Zacharias Abubeker for UGHE

“Over the last decade, Rwanda has seen significant advances in economic growth and population health. Developments in mobile health technology, household-administered rapid diagnostic tests, and support systems that integrate information and communications technology (ICT) are transforming not just how care is delivered – but where. By delivering high-quality health care and social services in some of the country’s poorest communities, Rwanda has developed a strong brand in global health delivery.

Read more here: https://ughe.org/task-force-on-global-advantage/

Training the next generation of global health leaders in Africa

Published by Devex on May 31, 2017

By Catherine Cheney

Members of University of Global Health Equity’s MGHD Class of 2017, after receiving their diplomas. Photo by: Zacharias Abubeker

“At this time of year, students around the world are putting on their caps and gowns for graduation ceremonies. Among them are 23 students from Rwanda and one from the U.S. who graduated as the first class of the University of Global Health Equity in Kigali, Rwanda, on Saturday.

Agnes Binagwaho, vice chancellor of the university and a former minister of health in Rwanda, calls UGHE ‘both exceedingly ambitious and urgently needed.’”

Read more here: https://www.devex.com/news/training-the-next-generation-of-global-health-leaders-in-africa-90037

Dr. Agnes Binagwaho at Skoll World Forum on Ebola mitigation

Published by Devex on April 24, 2017

Watch the video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2pvivsmNRMk

Learn more about this discussion: https://www.devex.com/news/a-call-for-implementation-science-and-systems-innovation-in-global-health-89872

Former Rwandan Minister of Health to Lead Partners In Health’s Groundbreaking University

Published by the University of Global Health Equity on March 31, 2017

“Kigali, Rwanda (March 31, 2017)—The University of Global Health Equity (UGHE) announces the appointment of Professor Agnes Binagwaho, MD, M(Ped), PhD, former Rwandan Minister of Health and a champion for health equity, as its new Vice Chancellor.”

Read more here: https://ughe.org/former-rwandan-minister-health-lead-partners-healths-groundbreaking-university/

The Heart of Africa’s New Medical School

Published by Project Syndicate on February 1, 2017

By Michael Fairbanks

“SAN FRANCISCO – Rwanda has achieved some of the most dramatic gains in health and poverty-reduction in the world. This small, landlocked African country (the size of Massachusetts, but with twice the population) has developed a primary health-care system with near-universal access to clinical care and insurance. Rwanda has reduced both economic and health-care inequality, and demonstrates how ‘health equity’ helps to build strong societies.

In 2015, the government of Rwanda and the Boston-based Partners In Health (PIH), with the help of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Cummings Foundation, established the private, not-for-profit University of Global Health Equity (UGHE). The university is founded on the principle that every member of a community deserves the same care and opportunity, and focuses on the delivery of quality health care to those who need it most. Agnes Binagwaho, a co-founder of UGHE who is a former minister of health and an adjunct professor at Harvard Medical School, once said to me, ‘Why would I want to raise my children in a nation where all children don’t get the same medical care as they do?’”

Read more here: https://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/rwanda-universal-health-care-ughe-by-michael-fairbanks-2017-02?barrier=accesspaylog

A conversation

Published by the University of Utah on January 26, 2017

I was invited to speak with students and staff from the College of Social Work, School of Medicine, and the College of Architecture and Planning at the University of Utah.

Read more here: https://thc.utah.edu/lectures-programs/talks-at-the-tanner/

Construction on UGHE Paves Way For The Next Generation of Leaders

Published by the University of Global Health Equity on December 11, 2016

Antoinette Habinshuti, Deputy Executive Director of IMB, Dr. Paul Farmer, PIH Co-Founder and Chief Strategist, Dr. Musafiri Papias Marimba, Minister of Education, and Dr. Peter Drobac, Executive Director of UGHE, plant the Visionary Tree to symbolize the beginning of construction of the university. Photo by Aaron Levenson for UGHE

Kigali, Rwanda – The University of Global Health Equity (UGHE) will break ground on its Butaro campus, initiating the first phase of construction on a facility that will support over 1,000 students and faculty and convene the world’s leading minds in health care delivery.

‘More than a shift in higher education, UGHE represents a shift in opportunity,’ says Dr. Agnes Binagwaho, Professor of the Practice of Global Health Delivery at UGHE. ‘The university will serve as an intellectual hub for the world’s best and brightest; many of whom will come from Rwanda and, as graduates, drive the success of our health system.’”

Read more here: https://ughe.org/construction-ughe-paves-way-next-generation-leaders/

The Evolution of the Physician Role in the Setting of Increased Non-physician Clinicians

Published by the International Journal of Health Policy and Management on September 13, 2016

In this video, I give a commentary about a paper I worked on explaining the evolution of the physician role published in the International Journal of Health Policy and Management (IJHPM)

Title of paper: The Evolution of the Physician Role in the Setting of Increased Non-physician Clinicians in Sub-Saharan AfricaAn Insistence on Timing and Culturally-Sensitive, Purposefully Selected Skill Development

Video Comment on “Non-physician Clinicians in Sub-Saharan Africa and the Evolving Role of Physicians”

Authors: Agnes Binagwaho; Gabriela Sarriera; Arielle Eagan

Read the full article here: http://www.ijhpm.com/article_3239.html

Watch the video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZAv7oHNks4w

CWL/CARE Virtual Health Forum

Transcript of Dr Agnes Binagwaho’s Remarks

15 May 2020

Reacting to a pandemic or epidemic is the same at national level. At national level it is always an epidemic. What we have learnt since 2014 when Ebola was a threat for the whole of Africa and the whole of the world (the US and Spain were also confronted with this challenge), and what the country is applying now, is that we need to work as one, in solidarity. It is critical that the population participate in the national response. If they do not understand, we will not have them doing the right thing at the right moment. We will have a panic as they will feel neglected, abused or used. We need to provide the population the best the government can do to abide with the guidelines. Now we say lockdown, and everybody stays at home. But we must also consider that around 47% of people in Rwanda live within poverty, they earn their wage on a daily basis, so, after a few days, they will run out of money to feed their family and will have to go out. We need to provide food provisions, and health support to help them feel secure, and be capable of living at home until the situation changes. Secondly, we all know that very few people can afford the test, or quarantine if needed. Therefore, these services have to be free, and this is what the government did.

All countries need to be ready for an outbreak like this. So, we need to have what we call the ‘disease detective’, those who are tracing the contacts ready to be on the frontline when the first case is diagnosed. We already have these in each district, and between outbreaks they are doing another job. So, when the pandemic entered the country, they were immediately on call. We also need to continuously refresh the knowledge of these workers around prevention on a regular basis, knowing who will say what and when. We need to engage the churches, the media, the private sector, the transport sector, the mobile population, youth, and women – to ensure they too are prepared. When the Government of Rwanda knew that China had this problem, we blocked a plane travelling to China. We started screening everyone coming into the country because anyone can be infected in any airport. We had this test ready and the systems prepared to trace all contacts of patients. We also tracked down the respirators we had in the country.

Preparedness is different disease by disease. We had a different response for Ebola than for COVID-19, but Ebola is absolutely deadly and spread by touch. Here, touch is not good, but it is not exactly the same. So, information, participation and a multisectoral approach is critical to pandemic prevention and response. Based on science, and this is the big problem of the world in this case, you can tell me that Europe and the US were prepared. But they were not. This is because they mistrusted science, and the politicians misused information.

What we are doing now, and you will see this more and more, is that there is science behind it. What we call implementation science. You may have all the hard sciences; what is a virus, how you are infected, but if you don’t know how to implement your preparation and your response, you will have what is happening, for example, in the UK and Italy. They did exactly the right things, but too late. Implementation science is the way that we can teach countries, researchers or politicians how to use the right evidence-based interventions at the right time, taking into account the context of time, and how fast an epidemic can spread.

Community Health Workers (CHWs) are the frontline at community level. In many countries they are elected, not nominated. The community recognizes CHWs as their people, so when a CHW says something, the community knows they have the knowledge provided by the ministry of health and the training and education they have, they are trusted by the people. If the pastor says something different than me, they will follow the pastor. And it is the same with the CHWs. It’s therefore important that we give them accurate data, and make sure that they have understood. In my country, Rwanda, they need to know how to read and write, to use a phone and to do a report, and they are trained for six weeks, refreshed every year. They have to talk only about what they know. We need to make sure that we don’t confuse them.

There is something that helped my country do what we do. In my country we don’t have a second amendment, and I don’t want to have it. If, for example, I go and say that vaccines kill, and we have a family who refuse a vaccine quoting my words, I am answerable to the law having put people in danger. And so people must not play with this. All this needs to be explained to CHWs and the entire population. We therefore need a participatory process, which makes sure that, for example, the religious community has the same message for the people as the Minister for Health or the education system so that we are all of the same sense. When we don’t know we say that we don’t know and that there are people out there in the global health community that are searching, and that we will come back soon with an answer when we know.

It is therefore all about honesty, transparency and ensuring that CHWs give the right message to avoid conflicting messages inside the same community. We must not forget the doctors, the nurses, the local leaders; everyone needs to be onboard. When we were preparing to respond to the Ebola crisis, we set up regular meetings between all these constituencies to ensure everyone had the same information and could work together. This means the media, the private sector, the religious community, young people, the association of CHWs, women and more; we need to make sure that they all have the same information and can work together. What scares me is not what is happening in my country, because we are at the other side of the curve and today the 15th of May, we have not had more than 300 cases. What scares me is what is going to happen in the world when we stop the lockdowns globally. We have the pre and post-COVID time, and we are going to overcome it. But inside the COVID-19 pandemic period, we have the pre-vaccine period and we will have the post-vaccine. During the pre-vaccine period we are very fragile. If life restarts as it does before, and this is my biggest fear, and if the vulnerable stay vulnerable, we will suffer. The world needs to realize that the equity agenda protects us all, and if we do not realize this, we are going to be worse than before this time of COVID-19.

Watch the full video here: https://youtu.be/Zb98eh2GERk?t=1069