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Skin Bleaching: Can Rwanda Handle The Fight?




Knowing the famous saying ‘Black Is Beautiful’ you would expect to see all Africans trying to remain darker and protect their skin than bleach it.

Unfortunately , for some, it is not the case.

They will go after what Rwandans call “mukorogo” (cosmetics).

This is a controversial subject.

If you have noticed, lighter skinned people are investigating in tanning their skin, and on the contrary black people are trying all they can to turn their dark and healthy skin into fair light.

African women are mainly fond of this practice.

For some women bleaching is one way of beautifying their skin and becoming attractive, they say so.

It is true that there are African men who prefer light skinned women, this is not to ignore that some men do get bleached, largely through sharing the substance with their spouses.

It is commonly known that some African countries like the Congo and Nigeria, light skinned women are favored, regardless of the healthy effects.

In some African families, men are dissuaded from marrying a dark skinned woman.

They are believed to be less fortunate than the white and fair light-skinned women.

In reaction, dark skinned women will bleach not only to be accepted by men but also to falsely raise their status amongst other women.

Sharon Muhoza is a Rwandan young lady who bleached.

She grew up feeling less beautiful and even less attractive, because she experienced the degrading attitude towards dark skinned women.

Going to school and meeting other girls, she learned that she was not doomed to her dark skin.

She learned from some of her peers that she can make her situation better.

She went to nearby shops in the neighbourhood and purchased a lotion suitable for the skin lighting.

It worked in the beginning when she started bleaching.

Slowly her skin turned light.

The reaction were diverse, but she noticed how she regularly received complements about her smooth light skin.

Everyone was noticing her fair skin, she became the center of attention for some time before her beauty turned out to be a disastrous experience.

Her skin became too sensitive to the sun and the pains were unbearable.

She started carrying an umbrella all the time, whether it was sunny or rainy.

Her skin dried out and developed pimples that were not going away, however much she tried to treat them.

And she started fearing for the worst.

That is when she gave up on the beauty adventure and attraction and chose to stop bleaching.

Luckily, she she recovered.

Dr. K. Kayitenkore is a dermatologist in Kigali.

She told Taarifa that many people who bleach do not understand the effects it causes to their skin.

However, after it has happened, they go to the hospital, get treatment. Many of them recover.

Unfortunately many physicians not advise their patients to stop bleaching because some patients don’t reveal that they have been bleaching.

Bleaching again causes an even worst reaction on the skin, she advises.

“The risks of bleaching are many and very menacing to life. There are lists or cancer, pimples and many others,” Dr. Kayitenkore says.

“Bleaching products reduce the melanin in the skin which makes it very vulnerable to the sun” she emphasizes.

Myths vs business

The global skin lightening products market includes a number of product types such as lotion and cream, foam, gel, serum and toner and scrub.

According to Future Market Insights’ research report, the lotion and cream segment leads the market with a high margin.

This segment is expected to reach a market value of over US$8.9 billion by 2027, up from about US$4.8million in 2017, growing at 6.4% during the forecast period of 2017-2027.

This growth in revenue can be attributed to the wide availability of lotions and creams in the skin care industry.

Sometime back Dr. Kayitenkore was once attending a conference in Nigeria.

One of the major items for discussion was bleaching among the many dermatological sphere.

Dermatology is the branch of medicine dealing with the skin, nails, hair and its diseases. It is a specialty with both medical and surgical aspects.

A dermatologist treats diseases, in the widest sense, and some cosmetic problems of the skin, scalp, hair, and nails

The debate, Dr. Kayitenkore says, was intense and ferocious.

Two main concerns were raised.

One, the cosmetics industry is huge, estimated to be in billions of dollars. Industry players tried to lobby against the debate and had hired some participants to argue against any attempt to disrupt actions that would jeopardised the trade in cosmetics business.

There are dozens of global pharmaceutical firms willing to invest in anything that stop banning cosmetics that are used for bleaching.

The conference was basically hijacked by masqueraders.

The second hot item was women activists who advocated for the rights to bleach, based on the social shortcomings women experience on society.

It was a tag of war. Activists argued that without cosmetics  some women would never get suitors and potential partners.

“Discussions over bleaching were heated,” she said. After all, she added, “scientific arguments were not given consideration.”

The case in Rwanda

There are many bleaching agents available on the Rwandan market.

Many shops across the country have some of the common agents including; Cream Moisturizers, Skin Whitening And Brightening Gel Creme, Neutrogena Fine Fairness Brightening Serum, Pigmentation Reducing Complex, and many more.

All of them are imported.

For many, these products are a God given. “I like them,” says Carine Mutesi, a customer who spoke to Taarifa in Kigali City market after purchasing one of her regular gel. She was hesitate to share reasons why she like bleaching, but said, “it’s my right, not so?”

However, many users of these products tend to share the same reasons for bleaching; stigima, peer influence and ignorance.

Dr. Kayitenkore says those are largely the reasons known, but insisted that when some users are educated about the effects, they easily stop using the products.

“We need a massive awareness, otherwise many Rwandans will continue suffering. Unfortunately many don’t know that one of the consequences is cancer,” she says. “If you are lucky not to get cancer, you may never recover for good.”

Meanwhile, a discussion has ensued on social media over bleaching.

President Kagame has also joined the discussion.

“Quite unhealthy among other things. Includes use of prohibited chemicals,” he said on Twitter, and went on to assign the Ministry of Health and the Rwanda National Police “to reign this in very quickly.”

Question are, can we bite this industry? Can this practice be eliminated from the society?


President Ndayishimiye Warns Doctors Against Strikes



President Evariste Ndayishimiye has warned health workers against ever thinking of staging any form of strike and threatened that he would deal with any such attempts with lethal force.

The Burundian leader issued the warning during the official launch of a marathon overhaul of Burundi’s health sector with the aim of improving health care in the highly isolated country.

Ndayishimiye inaugurated Saturday, September 11, 2021 the Musigati communal hospital in Bubanza province. It is the first hospital to be inaugurated as part of the program to transform health centers into municipal hospitals.

The Director General of OBUHA (Office Burundais de l’Urbanisme, de l’Habitat et de la Construction) explained to the President that out of the first batch of 37 municipal hospitals, 35 have already been completed.

With the transformation of the Musigati health center into a municipal hospital, the OBUHA added two new blocks, a pediatric ward and an adult hospital ward.

The Ministry of Public Health has assigned two additional doctors, native of the municipality, with a batch of drugs and medical equipment.

With the transformation of the Mabayi health center into a communal hospital, the OBUHA added two new units, a pediatric unit and an adult hospital unit.

During the inauguration of the Musigati communal hospital, First Lady Angeline Ndayishimiye offered gifts to mothers who had just given birth.

After the inauguration of the Musigati municipal hospital, Ndayishimiye congratulated the population of this municipality for this infrastructure equipped with medical equipment worth 400 million BIF.

He asked the staff to manage this material with due diligence and to provide quality health care to the population without ever threatening to go on strike.

President Ndayishimiye called on the population to protect themselves against diseases by respecting the rules of hygiene.

He has declared that he is the leader of the development.

In his strategy to fight against poverty Evariste Ndayishimiye said that it is necessary to put in place a leadership committed to serving the people, not corrupt.

“We must promote good governance, education and good health of the population, fight laziness and mobilize the entire population to work,” he said.

The Head of State affirmed that Burundi has all the assets to get out of poverty. He explained that Burundi has a subsoil rich in minerals, abundant water, fertile land and a Burundian people are intelligent. “Everyone just needs to get to work,” He said.

To fight against unemployment, the Head of State revealed that the government has placed particular emphasis on technical training. This is how a training center is being built in Karusi province. This is where young people can acquire a variety of professional skills that will enable them to compete in the labor market or to create their own jobs.

In his message on the occasion of the inauguration of the Musigati hospital, the Head of State protested against the embezzlement that characterized the construction of the Mpanda hydroelectric dam, whose work stopped while the state had already spent 50 billion FBu and the Kajeke hydro-agricultural dam, the work of which was poorly executed.

For the Head of State, the money spent on these two infrastructures must be recovered and returned to the public treasury. For the President of the Republic Evariste Ndayishimiye, the corrupt, the lazy and the thieves of public funds no longer have a place in Burundian society.

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Health Minister Unleashes Experts To Investigate Baho Hospital



The Minister of Health has created a Joint Investigation Team to dig into the alleged clinical malpractices at Baho International Hospital.

This team consists of nine individuals who started their investigations on September 10, 2021 and are expected to provide a comprehensive report in five working days.

The team consists of Dr. Cornielle Ntihabose from the Ministry of Health as its Chairperson, Dr. Lysette  Umutesi from RSSB as the Vice Chairperson, Mr. Hesron Byiringiro from Rwanda Food and Drugs Authority, Innocent Kagabo from the National Council of Nurses and Midwives, and Jean Damascene  Gasheruka from the Rwanda Allied Health Professional Council.

Other members include Philbert Ciza from the Ministry of Health, Dr. Jean Damascene Hanyurwimfura from the Rwanda Medical and Dental Council, Fidele Bimenyimana from the National Pharmacy Council as well as Donatien Ntagara Ngabo from the Ministry of Health.

The latest of the Nyarutarama based hospital’s woes surfaced on September 8, 2021 when a lady only as of now identified as Chantal lost her life after going for a simple family planning procedure that was fatal and cost her life.

Prior to that saga, the hospital had again come under strong criticism from social media users over their lack of professionalism in areas of customer care as well as hygiene in and around the hospital premises.

In the July incidence, one Twitter user identified as Lucy Mbabazi, went to the hospital with a 10am appointment but was shocked to reach and there were eight people in front of her in the line without appointments and she was finally able to receive help at 1pm.

When she took to twitter to express her dissatisfaction at the service she was given at the hospital, the hospital got defensive through its twitter account, replying to the patient’s complaint that if she had another urgent program to attend after meeting the doctor, she would have asked the customer care team to assist.

The July backlash had prompted the Ministry of Health to carry out a quick assessment into the complaints after which the hospital came out and admitted its shortcomings and asked for forgiveness with a promise to work on the areas that were lacking.

A letter that was also signed by the Chairperson of the hospital, Joseph Kayibanda, read, ‘’We would like to express our sincere apology to the public and especially our patients whom we have let down recently in customer care.”

Barely months after the apology and Ministry of Health’s investigation, one of the hospital’s patients has lost her life which has put the hospital that has been in operation in Rwanda since 2015 into troubles leading to the creation of a team to investigate its activities.

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Baho International Hospital Under Attack Again



Baho International Hospital is once again under attack on social media users after one of its clients lost her life yesterday. She had undergone a minor surgery in the morning.

This comes months after the private health service provider was strongly criticized for its poor hygiene and lack of customer care towards its patients.

The backlash prompted the Ministry of Health to carry out a quick assessment into the complaints after which the hospital came out and admitted its shortcomings and asked for forgiveness and promised to work on the areas which were lacking.

A letter that was signed by the hospital’s Chairperson, Joseph Kayibanda, read, ‘’We would like to express our sincere apology to the public and especially our patients whom we have let down recently in customer care.
The health service provider that has been operating in Rwanda since 2015 has been in the media for mostly the wrong reasons and the most recent one came in yesterday after a lady up to now only known as Chantal went to the Nyarutarama based hospital for a simple family planning procedure but unfortunately lost her life.

Its most recent woes before the most recent one started on July 10,2021 when one dissatisfied citizen went to social media and raised a concern over failure to be attended to on a medical appointment that was scheduled for 10am but instead received it at 1pm.

”When you’re given a doctor’s appointment for 10am but told there are 8 people ahead of you with NO appointment,” Lucy Mbabazi tweeted and it was to this tweet that the hospital replied that if she had another urgent program to attend after meeting the doctor, she would have asked the customer care team to assist.

The issue took a twist when the hospital told local media outlets that the patient’s complaint was misplaced and that the probe would be a good witness to the quality of service delivery and it was after this defiance from the hospital that different social media users shared their own experiences at the hospital including foreigners.

This attracted the attention of various prominent Twitter users including RDB CEO Clare Akamanzi.

”How will you change if you can’t even be humble enough to take feedback or comment after thoroughly investigating the complaints? this false confidence isn’t good for service delivery,” she said on Twitter.

In yesterday’s case after the death incidence, different Twitter users went into a frenzy as they expressed their disgust towards the continued poor services of the hospital even after an investigation into their complaints by the Ministry of Health.  The hospital neither denied nor accepted the allegations and they only said, ‘’@BahoIntHospital would like to present its sincere condolences to the family and friends of Chantal.

May her soul Rest In Peace. The case is under investigation by competent authority, we shall let you know further outcome. Thank you,’’ on their Twitter account.

The Rwanda Investigations Bureau Spokesperson Thierry Murangira was contacted for a comment on the ongoing investigations about the incident and he said that a few arrests have been made and a lot can’t be communicated as of now as investigations are still on going.

“Yes! RIB has arrested Dr. Gaspard Ntahonkiriye (Gynecologist) and Dr. Alfred Mugemanshuro (Anesthesiologist) from BAHO International Hospital as part of the ongoing investigation into the death of a female patient (54 year) who died on 09 September, 2021.”

He went on to say that findings of this investigation would be communicated later.

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