ORT IC aims to bring vital medical training to Rwanda


11 April 2008 ORT IC aims to bring vital medical training to Rwanda World ORTs International Cooperation Department aims to bring Israeli know-how and Jewish empathy to Rwanda with a unique training programme for health care professionals. One major institutional funder, in the UK, has expressed interest in backing the desperately needed $400,000 programme, which has been welcomed by Rwandas Minister of Health, Dr Jean Damascene Ntawukuliryayo, but more financial support is being sought. This week, the 14th anniversary of the outbreak of the genocide in which 800,000 people were murdered in 100 days, ORT ICs Geneva office Director Randy Grodman attended a United Nations commemoration of the bloodshed. As a Jew I could not help but draw parallels between the atrocities committed in Rwanda and the Holocaust in Europe, Mr Grodman said. Sixty years ago ORTs work in the Displaced Persons camps helped 80,000 Holocaust Survivors to find a new lease on life, now ORT is the obvious choice to do something for the Rwandans. The ORT IC plan is to train medical professionals in the multidisciplinary approach to rehabilitation utilised by the internationally renowned Loewenstein Hospital Rehabilitation Centre (LHRC), the largest rehabilitation hospital in Israel. This involves treating patients using teams whose members each contribute their particular expertise in a coordinated and complementary way. This approach is a new concept for many countries in the world, including Rwanda and most other African countries. The project will be implemented in three phases: first, health care managers, doctors, nurses, physiotherapists, psychologists, social workers, prosthetics specialists and others will undergo intensive one-week training programmes in Rwanda; secondly, a group of key Rwandan professionals will undergo 10-day training courses in Israel; and, thirdly, a National Medical Rehabilitation Centre of Excellence will be created in Rwanda that will provide treatment as well as opportunities for the training of more professionals. Participants will learn how best to treat physical rehabilitation together with psychological rehabilitation and will see first hand how a team of qualified experts can effectively work together to help patients become independent and improve their quality of life, Mr Grodman said. This project will have a train-the-trainers focus: eventually hundreds of thousands of people suffering serious physical and psychological trauma will be able to receive help from domestically-trained compatriots. Mr Grodman visited Rwanda in January 2008 with the Deputy Director of the LHRC, Dr Iuly Treger, and saw first hand the health problems facing many Rwandans as well as the large gap between their rehabilitation needs and the available services. A huge proportion of Rwandas 10 million inhabitants still suffer from serious psychological, physiological and emotional problems as a result of the traumatic events of 1994, Mr Grodman said. In addition, a large number of Rwandans need medical rehabilitation due to birth defects, serious illnesses and diseases, accidents and other factors. In a letter to ORT IC and the LHRC, Rwandas Health Minister, Dr Ntawukuliryayo, wrote: The Ministry of Health greatly appreciates your support in advance and looks forward to your participation in improving the health of the Rwandan population. And World ORTs President Emeritus, Justice Richard Goldstone, has praised the project. Justice Goldstone, an internationally renowned jurist and distinguished proponent of human rights, said: I admire this excellent programme. I have no doubt that it is a very worthwhile project that will benefit the people of Rwanda.