The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston has partnered with the Rwandan government’s Human Resources for Health Program to bring doctors to Rwanda to teach medical students. UTMB is part of an elite group of health care institutions, including Harvard, Yale and Duke, that aim to help increase Rwanda’s medical workforce in the areas of medicine, nursing and midwifery, dentistry and health management. 

Almost 20 years after the country’s devastating genocide, Rwandans are still rebuilding. Increasing the country’s medical workforce is an integral part of the country’s rebirth. 

For a country of more than 11 million, there are only 625 practicing physicians and 150 specialists.

Dr. Matthew Dacso, assistant professor of internal medicine and director of the Center for Global Health Education at UTMB, is leading UTMB’s recruitment efforts to bring physician specialists to Rwanda to teach medical students for one year.

“We’re looking for specialists, because Rwanda’s one and only school of medicine doesn’t have enough teachers in their post-graduate program to train doctors in specialties,” said Dacso. “This is an opportunity for a doctor to impart his or her skill, expertise and knowledge into someone else — to pay it forward.” 

The Rwanda Human Resources for Health Program is a 7-year, $150 million program announced in 2012 by former President Bill Clinton and Rwandan President Paul Kagame. “Rwanda’s example, and the Human Resources for Health Program in particular, have the potential to transform global health by serving as a model for any country that wants to increase the efficiency of foreign aid and improve the health of its people,” said Clinton.

The program is being credited for its innovation in the creation of a long-term partnership, in lieu of the traditional short-term mission trips, which will help Rwanda achieve self-sufficiency. 

By the program’s completion in 2018, Rwanda’s specialist physician capacity will have more than tripled. An additional 550 physicians, 2,800 nurses and midwives, 300 dental professionals, and 150 health managers will have been newly trained in Rwanda — all of whom will have signed contracts to work in the country for a certain number of years based on the degree they obtain.

“UTMB is excited to be a part of Rwanda’s rebuilding process,” said Dacso.

For more information, or to apply for the program, contact Dacso at mmdacso@utmb.edu.