Drones, Sun – and a Strong Will – Elevate Rwanda’s Health Care

Photo by James Martin of UGHE campus construction in Butaro.
Construction of UGHE’s first permanent campus in Butaro. Photo by James Martin for CNET.

At one time, the only way to get from Kintobo to the hospital was by foot. The small village lies 7,700 feet up a steep, green mountain in Rwanda’s remote Western Province.

People suffering from tropical illnesses like malaria, dengue fever and tuberculosis trekked two hours down the mountain slope to reach the closest doctors. Parents toted sick children on their backs using wide sashes cinched around their waists. And anyone seriously hurt or in labor had to be carried in a hammock tied to two logs — shouldered by two people in front, two in back — as the person inside swayed back and forth with each step along the mountain’s muddy trails.

“Imagine how this population was suffering trying to go down to the health facilities,” says Bertin Gakombe, a lanky Rwandan with a toothy smile, who’s program manager for the nonprofit organization Health Builders. “It wasn’t easy.”

In rural Rwanda, people don’t measure distance in miles or kilometers. They measure it by how long it takes to walk somewhere.

[Read the full article at CNET]