Rwanda is widely celebrated for having demonstrated that major improvements in health can be achieved in a poor country, at relatively low cost per capita, by good strategy, innovation and focusing on the best bang for the buck. Rwanda says its due to brilliant planning and expanding doctor density. Jeffrey Sachs says its due to massive use of low-skilled community health workers – an approach that everyone should adopt.
Rwanda is a beautiful example of how even the most devastated country can, with enough support and the right kind of planning, make a stunning recovery and get itself on the path of progress. On many indicators of health and welfare, as well as economic growth, Rwanda is at the top of the list in Africa and, in some cases, globally. I’ve seen the evidence for this in person, having visited and reported on Rwanda more than a year ago. It is an impressive ‘success story.’ But a bizarre juxtaposition of events that took place this week illustrates, for some anyway, the dilemma that Rwanda poses for the humanitarian community.