Most new people comment immediately on the quality of roads in Rwanda. And it's true - the main roads about town and major highways are all pretty great. There do exist many unpaved, pothole-ridden roads, but there are enough smooth roads to offset the discomfort of these. For the most part it's a delight to travel around Rwanda.
Last week Jed's office asked a group to go up to Butaro, a northern province on the border to Uganda, to conduct some interviews with patients and staff working at the Oncology Centre (one of MASS's projects) to determine the user needs for a new temporary lodging building. I tagged along for the day more just to get a view of the countryside and see more of Rwanda than through any burning desire to visit Butaro itself, though I happened to learn a lot about the crazy inefficiency of health care here as a bonus.
The views from either side of the road while making our way through the hills of Rwanda were stunning. Indeed every square meter of the land is occupied or farmed, up to the steepest edges of the hills that undulate away into the mist. While the roads have some major hazards - people walking along the edges being the main one and insane people passing you on blind curves being another, the drive is more or less pleasant in the daytime (night time it's a whole different ballgame).
The hospital, oncology center and doctor's housing were amazing to see. They were without exception gorgeous examples of how design meets local craftsmanship and comes together to create a place of pride that has helped the local economy grow and provided skills for the community to share. It's no wonder these projects have gotten so much international attention. Rwanda could do without the shite Chinese construction that passes for progress all over East Africa and implement skilled locals instead, and these projects prove it can be done. Investing in your own citizens is truly something to be admired and imitated.
The functionality of the services within the hospital, on the other hand, left much to be desired. It became evident after a few patient interviews that the customer service aspect of administration is a huge issue in Rwanda. I'm not sure if that's culturally ingrained or what, but the slowness, inefficiency and duplication of effort required just to get a patient registered seemed incomprehensibly time-consuming, bureaucratic and frustrating.
Anyways.. I'm not here to study ways to increase efficiency in healthcare, but rather to share pretty pictures, right? Right.