Published: 2021-04-27

Medical laboratory professional’s week in Rwanda: a field report from the Simbi and Maraba communities

Pierre Gashema, Patrick G. Iradukunda, Musafiri Tumusiime, Jean D. Harelimana, Gad Rutayisire, Stuart T. Nyakatswau, Oswald Samjeh, Andrew Muhwezi, Ivan E. Mwikarago, Fiston Gitema, Ella L. Ndoricyimpaye, Pierre Rugimbanya, Edgar Gatete, Tafadzwa Dzinamarira, Nadine Rujeni, Claude M. Muvunyi


Background: In response to the need for interventions that facilitate the accessibility of medical services in poor communities, an outreach activity was organized in semi-rural areas of Maraba and Simbi sectors located in Huye district, Southern province of Rwanda. The outreach was undertaken by health sciences students and involved the screening of hypertension, risk of diabetes, hepatitis, anemia, eye disease, and HIV.

Methods: Clinical assessments and rapid laboratory diagnostic assays were used to screen invited residents from the two selected communities. An observation research was conducted from May 21 to 25 May, 2018, at Maraba and Simbi sector located in Huye district, Southern province, Rwanda. We employed a purposively sampling technique for participants' recruitment in the outreach. The outreach was conducted as part teaching program and community engagement, and was endorsed by college of medicine and health sciences and all the subjects voluntarily participated in this exercise; the ethical approval was not applicable for this outreach activity. 

Results: The total beneficiaries from those sectors were 1427 citizens of whom females predominated at 72%. During the screening, hypertension was found to be high at 47.8% among adults. Anemia which mostly presumes iron deficiency was observed at 32.5% among under 15 years old children and at 15% in pregnant women. The vision impairment and cataract were observed at 5.66 and 19.59%, respectively. The assessed viral infection indicated a rate of 0.56% for HIV, 1.03% for HBV, and 7.17% for HCV. High blood glucose was found in 10.4% of the screened population.

Conclusions: The findings highlight a high burden of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) in rural communities and call for further investigations and interventions to align with the sustainable development goals (SDGs), particularly access to affordable health services. Furthermore, the success of this outreach highlights the potential contribution of health care trainees in achieving these goals and calls for integration of such interventions in the health education curriculum.


Laboratory professional week, Outreach, Diagnostics

Full Text:



Agyeman-Duah JNA, Theurer A, Munthali C, Alide N, Neuhann F. Understanding the barriers to setting up a healthcare quality improvement process in resource-limited settings: a situational analysis at the Medical Department of Kamuzu Central Hospital in Lilongwe, Malawi. BMC health services research. 2014;14:1.

Mills A. Health care systems in low-and middle-income countries. New England Journal of Medicine. 2014;370:552-7.

Peters DH, Garg A, Bloom G, Walker DG, Brieger WR, Rahman MH. Poverty and access to health care in developing countries. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences. 2008;1136:161-71.

Fisher HM. Community service as an integral component of undergraduate medical education: facilitating student involvement. Bulletin of the New York Academy of Medicine. 1995;72:76.

Remais JV, Zeng G, Li G, Tian L, Engelgau MM. Convergence of non-communicable and infectious diseases in low-and middle-income countries. Int j epidemiol. 2012;42:221-7.

Chang H-C, Hsiung H-Y, Chen S-I, Yen AM-F, Chen TH-H. Comparison of a community outreach service with opportunity screening for cervical cancer using Pap smears. J public health. 2007;29:165-72.

Selvapatt N, Ward T, Harrison L, Lombardini J, Thursz M, McEwan P et al. The cost impact of outreach testing and treatment for hepatitis C in an urban Drug Treatment Unit. Liver International. 2017;37:345-53.

Zhang M, Wu J, Li L, Xu D, Lam DS, Lee J et al. Impact of cataract screening outreach in rural China. Investigative ophthalmol visual sci. 2010;51:110-14.

Schneider P, Diop F. Community-based health insurance in Rwanda. Health financing for poor people Resource mobilization and risk sharing, Washington DC: World Bank. 2004;251-74.

Shimeles A. Community based health insurance schemes in Africa: The case of Rwanda. 2010.

Nahimana M-R, Nyandwi A, Muhimpundu MA, Olu O, Condo JU, Rusanganwa A et al. A population-based national estimate of the prevalence and risk factors associated with hypertension in Rwanda: implications for prevention and control. BMC public health. 2018;18:2.

Banyangiriki J, Phillips J. Prevalence of Hypertension among Working Adults in Rwanda. Iranian journal of public health. 2013;42:925-6.

Maharjan B. Prevalence and Awareness of Hypertension among Adults and its Related Risk Factors. J Nepal Health Res Council. 2018;15:242-6.

Awoke A, Awoke T, Alemu S, Megabiaw B. Prevalence and associated factors of hypertension among adults in Gondar, Northwest Ethiopia: a community based cross-sectional study. BMC cardiovascular disorders. 2012;12:113.

Bright T, Kuper H, Macleod D, Musendo D, Irunga P, Yip JL. Population need for primary eye care in Rwanda: A national survey. PloS one. 2018;13:e0193817.

Mathenge W, Nkurikiye J, Limburg H, Kuper H. Rapid assessment of avoidable blindness in Western Rwanda: blindness in a postconflict setting. PLoS med. 2007;4:e217.

Courtright P, Murenzi J, Mathenge W, Munana J, Müller A. Reaching rural Africans with eye care services: findings from primary eye care approaches in Rubavu District, Rwanda. Trop Med Int Health. 2010;15:692-6.

Stevens GA, Finucane MM, De-Regil LM, Paciorek CJ, Flaxman SR, Branca F et al. Global, regional, and national trends in haemoglobin concentration and prevalence of total and severe anaemia in children and pregnant and non-pregnant women for 1995-2011: a systematic analysis of population-representative data. The Lancet Global Health. 2013;1:e16-25.

Donahue Angel M, Berti P, Siekmans K, Tugirimana PL, Boy E. Prevalence of Iron Deficiency and Iron Deficiency Anemia in the Northern and Southern Provinces of Rwanda. Food Nutrition Bull. 2017;38:554-63.

Kalaivani K, Ramachandran P. Time trends in prevalence of anaemia in pregnancy. Indian J Med Res. 2018;147:268.

Vermeulen M, Swanevelder R, Chowdhury D, Ingram C, Reddy R, Bloch EM et al. Use of blood donor screening to monitor prevalence of HIV and hepatitis B and C viruses, South Africa. Emerging Infect Dis. 2017;23:1560.

Walker TD, Musabeyezu E. Hepatitis B in Rwanda: closing the gaps to end an epidemic. Rwanda J. 2015;2:76-9.

Riou J, Aït Ahmed M, Blake A, Vozlinsky S, Brichler S, Eholié S et al. Hepatitis C virus seroprevalence in adults in Africa: a systematic review and meta-analysis. J Viral Hepatitis. 2016;23:244-55.

Mutagoma M, Nyirazinyoye L, Sebuhoro D, Riedel DJ, Ntaganira J. Syphilis and HIV prevalence and associated factors to their co-infection, hepatitis B and hepatitis C viruses prevalence among female sex workers in Rwanda. BMC Infect Dis. 2017;17:525.

Ghaderian SB, Hayati F, Shayanpour S, Mousavi SSB. Diabetes and end-stage renal disease; a review article on new concepts. J Renal Injury Prevent. 2015;4:28.

Marshall SL, Edidin D, Arena VC, Becker DJ, Bunker CH, Gishoma C et al. Prevalence and incidence of clinically recognized cases of type 1 diabetes in children and adolescents in Rwanda, Africa. Diabetic Med. 2015;32:1186-92.

Tapela N, Habineza H, Anoke S, Harerimana E, Mutabazi F, Hedt-Gauthier BL, et al. Diabetes in rural Rwanda: high retention and positive outcomes after 24 months of follow-up in the setting of chronic care integration. Int J Diabetes Clin Res. 2016;3.