Human Resources for Health Program - Rwanda

With the commitment to meeting the health needs of its citizens by 2020, the Government of Rwanda, through the Ministry of Health, launched the Human Resources for Health (HRH) Program in August 2012. The HRH Program will build the education infrastructure and workforce necessary to create a high quality, sustainable health care system in Rwanda by addressing the country’s most challenging obstacles:

  • Critical shortage of skilled health workers
  • Poor quality of health worker education
  • Inadequate infrastructure and equipment in health facilities
  • Inadequate management of health facilities

The Rwanda Human Resources for Health Program represents a new model for health education and the delivery of foreign aid.

Instead of small scale cooperative efforts between individual academic institutions involving exchanges of a few people, the Ministry of Health has partnered with a consortium of top US institutions of medicine, nursing, health management, and oral health. The US institutions have made a commitment that is unprecedented in global health. They are supplying full-time medical, nursing, health management and dentistry faculty who are paired with Rwandan faculty and students to ensure knowledge transfer and upgrading of clinical and didactic skills. By providing mentoring and formal instruction, according to the national plan, the HRH Program faculty will improve the quality, skills, and capacity of the Rwandan health workforce so it is positioned to sustainably and comprehensively meet the country’s health care needs. The HRH Program will train over 550 medical specialists, upgrade the skills of over 5,000 nurses and introduce formalized training in health management and dentistry.

The Rwanda Ministry of Health allocates funds for the program, therefore erasing overhead typically lost to third party management and assuming all accountability. After seven years, the Government of Rwanda will be positioned to sustain the improved health workforce on its own without foreign aid.


The Rwandan Faculty of Medicine is tasked with ensuring that the quality of graduating doctors and specialists will match that of developed countries. Through the Rwanda HRH Program, the Faculty of Medicine is increasing the skill level of trainees and broadening the physician workforce to include a dramatic increase in specialists and subspecialists. While a critical mass of general practitioners is necessary in the health system, the lack of specialists creates a concern about the quality of care available in public health facilities.

The Rwanda HRH Program focuses on the following programs in the– Internal Medicine, Pediatrics, Obstetrics and Gynecology, Surgery, Anesthesiology, Emergency Medicine, Radiology, Pathology, Oncology and Psychiatry– to strengthen their curriculum and clinical training components, while increasing their capacity to absorb larger numbers of students. Rotating sub-specialists from the US in Internal Medicine, Pediatrics, Ob/Gyn, Surgery and Anesthesia provide modular teaching of critical subspecialties as part of specialists’ training.

The Rwanda HRH Program also helps to build the capacity of Rwanda instructors. While some instructors have years of experience in clinical practice, they often do not provide optimal training for students in teaching hospitals. US mentors are paired with these clinicians to provide mentorship and build technical capacity. US mentors meet regularly one-on-one with their Rwandan partner to discuss the students under their tutelage and different teaching strategies.