Rwanda's referral hospital services worsen despite new management

Tuesday July 18 2017

The management of Rwanda’s biggest national referral — King Faisal Hospital —  has been handed to an Angola-based company. PHOTO | FILE

The management of Rwanda’s biggest national referral — King Faisal Hospital — was handed to an Angola-based company. PHOTO | FILE 

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Services at Rwanda’s largest national referral hospital, King Faisal Hospital (KFH), have plummeted despite a change in management, which was expected to make it a profitable centre of excellence, a phenomenon that has worried employees.

When the government gave an Angola-based private firm the power to manage KFH in February this year, it was expected that they would progressively upgrade the hospital’s services and facilities to meet international standards.

But now under Oshen Healthcare Rwanda Ltd — a subsidiary of Oshen Group South Africa – KFH has seen its services worsen, while staff workload has significantly increased due to a restructure programme that saw 78 workers retrenched.

“In my department, we are fewer after our colleagues were fired, but the patients increased in number. There have not been any sort of additions of equipment or staff,” said a doctor who spoke on condition of anonymity.

The doctor’s views were shared by other employees who spoke to this reporter on a visit to the hospital’s premises.

The hospital’s CEO and spokesperson Joaquin Bielsa, was not available for comment and neither was Diane Gashumba, the Minister for Health. Uzziel Ndagijimana, the chairman of the KFH interim board, told Rwanda Today that the new managers of the hospital need time and cannot be judged at the moment.

“They have only been in charge for a short time. Six months is not enough to make an accurate assessment,” said Dr Ndagijimana.

He said the government cannot respond to the employees concerns since they are now under the management of a private company.

“The working relationship between the new management and the employees is governed by the labour law and by the contracts between the workers and Oshen Healthcare Group,” said Dr Ndagijimana, adding, “The government is the owner of the business being managed by a third party and its role is to make sure that the concession agreement is adhered to by the manager.”

The hospital has not seen significant investment, despite an initial investment of Rwf17 billion ($23 million) that Oshen said it would inject in the hospital over the next five years.

In March, KFH purchased a new multi-slice CT scan valued at about $2.5 million, but this investment was made by the previous management, sources close to the matter said. The hospital’s website does not also offer any insight about the the new management’s plans, as it was last updated before Oshen took over.

According to Rwanda Development Board, the contract between Oshen and the government is based on a “performance based concession,” which will be continuously evaluated.