Taarifa Rwanda

Kagame And Bill Gates Meet To Discuss Healthcare

President Kagame and First Lady Jeannette Kagame met with Bill and Melinda Gates yesterday along with the leadership of the Gates Foundation.

The meeting held in Seattle focused on Achieving Impact at Scale in Africa.

It is the second time this year that both couples meet to discuss health and development in Africa and Rwanda.

They also met earlier this year at the AU, on the sideline of the “Africa Leadership Meeting: Investing in Health” conference, that was chaired by President Paul Kagame.

On that occasion President Paul Kagame and Bill Gates co-authored an op-ed “Every vaccine is a shot of adrenaline into the heart of the African economy” that was published far and wide.

Both President Kagame and Bill Gates are strong believers in the positive impact investment in healthcare can have on the economic outcome of a country.

Kagame has consistently championed increased allocation of funds from the national budget to healthcare in Rwanda, and the championing of universal health care.

“How do you save children and mothers and make sure that they take the next day, week and year for granted, especially when the history has been different and people have not been sure their babies will last until five. We have reversed that,” Kagame said.

This, Kagame said, has happened due to a shift in thinking, doing more with less. “We have been thrust into this position because of history and geography: the tragic history we have gone through and being a small country and landlocked. There is no way you can survive if you do not innovate.”

President Kagame noted that this focusing menas prioritizing, yet it is a problem for Rwanda’s situation. “Everything is a priority, putting priorities in order is difficult. We prioritized healthcare, we looked at ordinary people, that is where we started from.”

For Kagame, economic growth should be about how that contributes to the wellbeing of people, “what we can do to improve their living standard and for most of them to achieve their aspirations.”

Gates and Kagame ommitment to healthcare can also be seen in the op-ed they co-authored “over the past two decades, every dollar spent on essential medicines in Africa has generated $20 more in social and economic benefits, but it’s also true that the cost of skimping on health spending is much greater than the savings.

Illness is expensive. Malaria, for example, drags down Africa’s GDP growth by up to 1.3% a year.

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has for many years been involved in supporting development and health in Rwanda and Africa, as an example, the recently inaugurated University of Global Health Equity, in Burera, was funded by the Foundation. 

Over the last twenty years, the Foundation has invested $15 billion in fighting poverty and disease on the African continent.

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