Baltimore, Md. – The University of Maryland School of Nursing (UMSON) is teaming up with nursing, medical, and public health colleges and universities to assist the government of Rwanda in strengthening its health care system. UMSON is one of 13 top U.S. institutions of higher learning chosen for this unprecedented effort. Following a competitive recruiting campaign, UMSON is sending seven faculty members, three of which are UMSON alumnae, to Rwanda to assist with the health care efforts. The roster of UMSON faculty is headlined by Kathy Schaivone, MPA, director, Clinical Education and Evaluation Laboratory. In addition to UMSON, Duke University, Howard University, New York University, and the University of Illinois, Chicago, are all sending nursing faculty to Rwanda. The University of Maryland School of Medicine will also be participating in this program.
Rwanda struggles with similar issues as other resource limited nations in Africa. It not only faces the typical challenges of AIDS, malaria, malnutrition, and high infant mortality rate, but also more chronic diseases resulting from an aging population and lack of physical activity and proper diet. The development of a better educated nursing workforce will help address these challenges. Rwanda is committed to significantly increasing the number of nurses and midwives with advanced certificates and bachelor’s and master’s degrees.
Through the Human Resources for Health (HRH) Program, a pioneering initiative led by Rwanda’s Ministry of Health and facilitated by the support of the Clinton Health Access Initiative, a seven-year plan is in place to take on this monumental work. During this period, the HRH Program looks to address Rwanda’s critical shortage of medical, nursing, and dental workers; poor quality of health professions education; poor infrastructure; and the inadequate management of health facilities. The Rwandan government is receiving funding for this project from the U.S. Government comprised of funds from the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and the US Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Global Fight Against AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria.
This program, created by Rwandan President Paul Kagame and U.S. President Bill Clinton, is unique in comparison to past health development projects. Rwanda’s government will manage the HRH Program, contracting with the U.S. schools directly. Participating schools will not charge any general overheads to this program. Additionally, U.S. faculty will live and work in Rwanda for at least 11 months; though their salaries and benefits will be lower than in the U.S. because this project is meant to primarily serve Rwanda, a resource limited country, rather than U.S. institutions. However, taking part in this project will provide U.S. faculty with a unique educational opportunity.
“Having spent almost two years in Rwanda, I am so pleased to see the University of Maryland’s engagement in this important work. The effort to renovate nursing education and practice is fundamentally important, insightful, and an honorable investment,” said Marik Moen, MS, RN, an assistant professor at UMSON and U.S. Rwandan project coordinator. “Everyone involved will set the stage for transforming how nursing, midwifery, medicine, dentistry, and public health are taught, learned, and practiced. In addition, we are developing a new paradigm for global partnerships to address human resources for health.”
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The University of Maryland School of Nursing, founded in 1889, is one of the oldest and largest nursing schools, and is ranked eleventh nationally. Enrolling more than 1,600 students in its baccalaureate, master’s, and doctoral programs, the School develops leaders who shape the profession of nursing and impact the health care environment.