Global leadership is one of the University of Illinois at Chicago's prime missions, as well as that of the College of Nursing (CON). As part of our commitment to this mission, the CON is proud to have been selected in 2011, with five other U.S. colleges of nursing, to participate in the Rwanda Human Resources for Health (Rwanda HRH) Program.
Managed by the Rwandan Ministry of Health, and with assistance from the Clinton Health Access Initiative, the Rwanda HRH Program is an innovative seven-year program to aid the Government of Rwanda in building a sustainable, high-quality healthcare education infrastructure and workforce. The HRH Program aims to address the critical shortage of medical, nursing, and dental workers, the poor quality of health worker education, the country's inadequate infrastructure, equipment, and management in health facilities. The Rwanda HRH Program is believed to be the largest cooperative global health effort ever undertaken between universities in the developed and developing world.
Dr. Tonda Hughes (1st kneeling left side), Associate Dean for Global Health, Dr. Mi Ja Kim (4th standing left side), Dean Emerita and past Executive Director of the Global Health Leadership Office, and Dr. Jane Arnold (2nd standing right side), Clinical Assistant Professor, personally and professionally, have made it their mission to assist in international causes close to their heart. Surrounded by Rwandan nursing/midwifery faculty members, the individuals pictured are spearheading efforts to solidify the infrastructure of Rwanda's health care system and health sciences education system.
The first team of seven UIC faculty members left in August, 2012 for a year-long commitment serving as Nurse Educators and Nurse Mentors in Rwanda. Additional UIC faculty have continued to travel to Rwanda each year alongside representatives from Duke University, Howard University, New York University, University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, and the University of Maryland.
Advancing the nurse and midwifery workforce and education in Rwanda is a primary target of the project. The nation has pledged to substantially boost the skill level of current health care providers, by committing to upgrade the qualifications of approximately 5000 nurses and midwives, along with multiplying the number of nursing/midwifery faculty with bachelor's and master's degrees (NEJM, 2013). A well-educated nursing workforce is critical to meet the challenges that Rwanda continues to face, including that of AIDS, malaria, malnutrition, and high infant mortality.
It is believed that once international funding is phased out, there will be sufficient Rwandan educators, infrastructure, and domestic funding to sustainably support the health care system and health sciences education system in the years to come.
"This has never been done in my lifetime. It is a real tribute to all of these people who are doing it and now hundreds, maybe thousands and thousands of Rwandans will live in a healthcare system run by Rwandans and sustained by Rwandans because all of these people have gotten together to do something that makes sense even in tough economic times. This is a huge deal." - President Clinton (2012 Clinton Global Initiative Closing Plenary).