Diabetes care in Rwanda - against all odds


Rwanda is a small developing country of 26,338 square kilometres, landlocked in central Africa, with an approximate population of 12 million inhabitants. The majority of people are subsistence farmers. Rwanda is home to one of the most appalling crimes of the 20th century, and it will take generations of Rwandese to heal from the devastation and loss. In the ‘1994 Tutsi Genocide’, more than a million people were innocently killed, thousands exiled, or jailed and many widows and orphans left behind once the killing stopped. Public services for the population were crushed and the healthcare system was paralysed with very few professionally trained doctors remaining in the country. Healthcare facilities and centres were destroyed and access to medicine was nearly non-existent.

While Rwandan institutions were overwhelmed by multiple emergencies, the health sector spent most of its remaining resources on infectious diseases, including HIV. Diabetes care in Rwanda suffered during the conflict and people with diabetes struggled to survive. Diabetes was overlooked, and people were in danger. Diabetes care policies did not exist, and seriousness of the condition was played down by doctors and ignored by the general public.

To tackle these challenges, Rwanda Diabetes Association (RDA) was created in 1997 with the aim of improving the well being of all people with diabetes in Rwanda, and to join the global effort to advocate better diabetes care and prevention.

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