Rwanda is home to about 10.5 million people, of which 5.4 million are under 20 years old. Under the Health Sector Policy, the Government of Rwanda stated that one of the main priorities for the country is to improve the wellbeing of the population by providing quality health services. A key goal of the policy is for healthcare to be accessible to the majority of the population, as well as being delivered with their participation. However, one of the major obstacles to realizing this policy is the limited skills available to deliver quality services.
Rwandans have long migrated to different parts of the world. In line with the Government of Rwanda’s participatory approach to healthcare, the Government has recognized the importance of its diaspora in contributing to national socioeconomic development. In response, a Diaspora Policy has been established and aims to tap into the expertise of Rwandans abroad to fill domestic skill shortages in the healthcare sector. The diaspora policy bridges current trends in diaspora management with development purposes.
To achieve the goal of this policy, the IOM Development Fund-supported project “Diaspora Engagement in the Rwandan Health Sector” is supporting the Government of Rwanda to engage highly skilled Rwandan diaspora members to contribute to the development of the healthcare sector.
IOM is working with diaspora members residing in Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom who are motivated to support government officials and local medical practitioners with ad-hoc capacity-development and skills transfer activities. This is aligned with Vision 2020 and the National Strategy for Transformation (2017-2024) which highlight the importance of developing health sector capacities in Rwanda.
The project has engaged 11 diaspora members, two of which participated in the project twice. Five more diaspora members are due to travel to Rwanda in September 2023. As well as capacity-development and skills transfer activities, the project is simultaneously focused on strengthening the diaspora members relation with institutions, communities and counterparts in their country of origin.
Medical practitioners involved in the project include general nurses, psychologists and anaesthesiologists. IOM and Rwandan Ministry of Health staff have made multiple field visits to District Hospitals to support the diaspora professionals and their hosting institutions.
Belgian resident Nagede is one of the selected healthcare professionals participating in the project. She said, “My recommendation to IOM is to continue to support the Ministry of Health in bringing back diaspora professionals to work here, practice their profession and share their experiences”.