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For Release: July 27, 2012

Dartmouth's Geisel School of Medicine Helping Lead Global Effort
to Train Rwandan Medical Professionals, Build Sustainable Health System

Teams with other top U.S. medical schools, U.S. and Rwandan governments


Rwanda President Paul Kagame and former U.S. President Bill Clinton with co-founder of Partners in Health Dr Paul Farmer, Minister of Health Dr. Agnes Binagwaho, Chelsea Clinton, and nursing students at the Rwamagana School of Nursing and Midwifery, during the announcement of the Rwanda HRH Program. Credit: The New Times / Vil

Hanover, N.H.—The Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth is one of seven U.S. medical schools partnering with the Ministry of Health in Rwanda on the new Rwanda Human Resources for Health (HRH) Program. This ambitious seven-year program—announced by former U.S. President Bill Clinton in Rwanda in late July—will support the Government of Rwanda in building a high quality and sustainable health system.

The Rwandan HRH program will help address the country's severe healthcare worker shortage by increasing the number of faculty available to train future physicians and health professionals. The program aims to build the health education infrastructure and health workforce necessary to create a sustainable healthcare system. The HRH Program will dramatically increase the number, quality, and skill level of Rwandan clinicians and health sciences educators, including medical doctors (general practitioners, specialists, and subspecialists), nurses and midwives.

This substantial scale-up will be achieved with the assistance of an unprecedented consortium of top US educational institutions. Each university has committed to sending full-time faculty members to Rwanda to help improve teaching, research, curriculum development, and mentorship. The U.S. physician and nursing faculty mentors will work for up to one year at three teaching hospitals in Kigali and Butare, Rwanda.

At the conclusion of the seven-year program, with thousands of Rwandan physicians and nurses having advanced their teaching, research, primary care and specialty skills as part of the educational partnership, the Rwanda Government "will be positioned to sustain the improved health workforce on its own without foreign aid," said Dr. Agnes Binagwaho, Minister of Health in Rwanda.

"These U.S. academic institutions have made a commitment that is unprecedented in global health," said Binagwaho. "The Rwanda HRH Program represents a new model for health education and for the delivery of foreign aid. This project will also create a new paradigm for cooperation between US academic institutions and academic institutions in Rwanda.

The HRH Program is financed by grants from the U.S. government, and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. The Clinton Health Access Initiative has helped to convene the consortium of US schools and the commitments of health experts needed for the program.

Dartmouth's Geisel School of Medicine has committed to sending several physician educators from anesthesia, internal medicine, pediatrics, and surgery specialties to Rwanda each year. Joining with other medical school faculty members from Brown, Duke, Harvard, Columbia, University of Virginia and Yale, the Geisel School physician educators will support clinical faculty in Rwanda and strengthen targeted clinical residency training programs, with an added impact on the quality of the clinical education for medical students.

Subspecialists from these same fields will be recruited to spend shorter periods of time in Rwanda to conduct specialized advanced training in areas such as neonatal intensive care and oncology care.

"We're pleased and honored to be among such an esteemed group of medical schools from across the country that were invited to participate in this project," said Dr. Lisa Adams, Geisel School of Medicine professor and a principal investigator for the Rwanda program. "It is a natural fit for our growing global health programming at Dartmouth and newly established Center for Health Equity at the medical school. We look forward to joining the faculty from these leading institutions to work together to support sustainable development through country-led improvements in health and education."

Adams pointed out that the Rwanda Human Resources for Health Program is unique because "it is completely driven by our Rwandan colleagues—the Ministry of Health and medical faculty of the National University of Rwanda are providing excellent leadership. While many global health programs espouse country ownership, it is refreshing to see it actually realized."

"I have never been involved in such a comprehensive global health program. The Rwanda HRH program will engage physicians from a variety of specialties, nurses, midwives and health managers - it is rare to see such an inclusive program. The Rwanda HRH program has great potential to strengthen the Rwandan medical education - and consequently the entire health system - across multiple disciplines and professions."

According to Adams, this program "is about contributing our faculty expertise to support the Rwandan faculty in their teaching of medical students and residents. We're proud that the Geisel School of Medicine has done an outstanding job of recruiting from across the spectrum of its faculty's expertise - the five physicians from Dartmouth's medical school and the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center (DHMC) will bring 60 years of collective experience as clinicians and medical educators. Having a mix of junior, mid-level and senior faculty participating will allow us to work with our Rwandan counterparts at different levels of professional development," added Adams, a 1990 graduate of Dartmouth's medical school.

Adams was the first U.S. faculty member to arrive in Rwanda and has been participating in the planning for the launch of the Rwanda HRH Program for more than a year.

The Geisel faculty members will spend the majority of their time in the hospitals teaching teams of residents and medical students at the bedside and during clinical case discussions, much as they do as attending physicians on the inpatient and outpatient services at DHMC. In anticipation of the U.S. physicians' arrival in August, Dartmouth's Internal Medicine residency program accepted twice as many residents to start this year. Increases in the number of residency training slots will allow the Rwandan health services to fill future faculty positions that are being created as part of the country's long-term plan to address their physician shortage.

The Dartmouth Geisel School of Medicine-affiliated physicians who will be participating in the first year of the Rwanda HRH program are:

  • Dr. Lisa Adams, Geisel Assistant Professor of Medicine (Internal Medicine)
  • Dr. Laura Shevy, Hospitalist at DHMC (Internal Medicine)
  • Dr. Heather Robertson, former Pediatrics Chief Resident at DHMC (Pediatrics)
  • Dr. Nick Perencevich, a 1969 graduate of Dartmouth College and 1970 graduate of Dartmouth's medical school, Geisel Adjunct Professor of Surgery, most recently a staff physician at Concord Hospital in New Hampshire (Surgery)
  • Dr. Dorey Glenn, Recent residency graduate of DHMC (Pediatrics)

To learn more about the Rwanda Human Resources for Health Program and Dartmouth's involvement, go to:

The Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth, founded in 1797, strives to improve the lives of the communities we serve through excellence in learning, discovery, and healing. The nation's fourth-oldest medical school, the Geisel School of Medicine has been home to many firsts in medical education, research and practice, including the discovery of the mechanism for how light resets biological clocks, creating the first multispecialty intensive care unit, the first comprehensive examination of U.S. health care cost variations (The Dartmouth Atlas), and the first Center for Health Care Delivery Science, which launched in 2010. As one of America's top medical schools, Dartmouth's Geisel School of Medicine is committed to training new generations of diverse physician leaders who will help solve our most vexing challenges in health care.

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