Rwanda Has One of the Most Successful Healthcare Systems in Africa

Must Read

Mali Swears In Bah Ndaw As New Civilian Leader

Mali's new president Bah Ndaw has been sworn into office, five weeks after the overthrow of Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta. Former...

Troublesome South African Baboon Evicted For Organizing Gang To Raid Homes

Kataza is an urban baboon who was captured and put in a local prison for organizing a band of baboons to join him in raiding 15 homes in Kommetjie, on Cape Town's southern peninsula in South Africa.

A Leading University In China Now Teaches Ethiopia’s Amharic Language As A Full Course

A leading university in China — Beijing Foreign Studies University (BFSU) — has started to offer Ethiopia's widely spoken...



The health system in Rwanda is used as a best-case scenario by many health experts. It is also famed for its success in implementing the community health insurance program which has improved access to quality health for citizens.

With more than 90 per cent of Rwandans covered under the community-based health insurance scheme locally known as Mutuelle de Santé, Rwanda is one of the few developing countries in the world that have successfully achieved universal healthcare.

What is Universal Healthcare?

Universal healthcare coverage is a broad concept that can be implemented in several ways. The common denominator for all such programs is some form of government action aimed at extending access to health care as widely as possible and setting minimum standards.

Usually some costs are borne by the patient at the time of consumption but the bulk of costs come from a combination of compulsory insurance and tax revenues.

Universal Healthcare in Rwanda

Rwanda operates a system of universal health insurance through the Ministry of Health called Mutuelle de Santé (Mutual Health), a system of community-based insurance where people pay premiums based on their income level into local health insurance funds, with the wealthiest paying the highest premiums and required to cover a small percentage of their medical expenses, while those at the lowest income levels are exempt from paying premiums and can still utilize the services of their local health fund. In 2012, this system insured all but 4% of the population.

The community-based health insurance scheme has in recent years encountered challenges of low real uptake numbers, inflated numbers by local leaders and poor service delivery in health centres and district hospitals, prompting the government to transfer management of the scheme to the Rwanda Social Security Board (RSSB) under the Rwandaise d’Assurance Maladie.

According to the Ministry of Health, management of the scheme which was initiated in 2000 but was operationalised in 2004 has improved since it was moved to RSSB in 2015 but some citizens say the quality of services given to subscribers is still wanting.

“It is not easy to secure a transfer from a district hospital if you need to go to a referral hospital,” says Sarafina Mukasarasi, 40, a card holder, though she says services at the district hospitals have improved, despite the long queues.

Ms Mukasarasi however says that thanks to the insurance scheme, which she pays about $3.36 (Rwf3,000) a year based on her household income, she does not pay a single coin when she falls ill or child birth. She delivered all her three children in a district hospital at no cost.

The scheme has been touted as one of the most successful on the continent and it is credited for the country’s lower maternal and infant mortality rates of 77 per cent and 70 per cent respectively, since 2000.

A recent study conducted by the Management Sciences for Health (MSH) and the University of Rwanda-College of Medicine and Health Sciences-School of Public Health, supported by The Rockefeller Foundation also showed that Rwanda’s Community-Based Health Insurance (CBHI) scheme has greatly increased access to health care services and reduced the burden of health care costs, especially for the poor.

Currently the community based health insurance scheme is used as an example of affordable universal healthcare schemes for poor countries.

© Africanexponent, theeastafrican, msh.org



Uzonna Anele
Anele is a web developer and a Pan-Africanist who believes bad leadership is the only thing keeping Africa from taking its rightful place in the modern world.

Leave a Reply

Subscribe to receive email updates

With a subscription profile, you automatically receive updates without having to return to the website and check for changes

Just In

Mali Swears In Bah Ndaw As New Civilian Leader

Mali's new president Bah Ndaw has been sworn into office, five weeks after the overthrow of Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta. Former...

Troublesome South African Baboon Evicted For Organizing Gang To Raid Homes

Kataza is an urban baboon who was captured and put in a local prison for organizing a band of baboons to join him in raiding 15 homes in Kommetjie, on Cape Town's southern peninsula in South Africa.

A Leading University In China Now Teaches Ethiopia’s Amharic Language As A Full Course

A leading university in China — Beijing Foreign Studies University (BFSU) — has started to offer Ethiopia's widely spoken Amharic language as a full...

TIME 100: Tony Elumelu, Three Other Nigerians Makes Time’s list of 100 Most Influential People Of 2020

Tony Elumelu, is among four Nigerians named by the Time Magazine International in their 2020 list of 100 most influential people in the world...

Zambia’s Namwali Serpell Wins UK’s Top Prize For Science Fiction

Zambia's Namwali Serpell has won the UK’s top prize for science fiction, the Arthur C Clarke award, for her first novel "The Old Drift". The...

More Articles Like This