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Making a Sustainable Impact on Physical Therapy in Rwanda

From March 2013 to May 2015, HVO volunteers delivered a series of continuing education courses, a leadership institute, and more than 300 clinical mentoring sessions to Rwandan physiotherapists, as part of a USAID-funded project. In total, 168 physiotherapists participated in these training activities—nearly half of Rwanda’s 333 physical therapy providers. But the impact of the project did not end there.

In 2017, Inès Musabyemariya, a Rwandan physiotherapist who co-taught one of the continuing education courses alongside several HVO volunteers, reached out to HVO with a proposal to measure the ongoing impact of the course. Ms. Musabyemariya worked closely with HVO staff members and volunteer Monika Mann, PT to administer a follow-up survey to assess participants’ retention and utilization of course content. 95% of survey respondents reported incorporating concepts and techniques from the course into their everyday practice.

Around the same time, one of the participants in the month-long leadership institute, Jean-Damascene Bigirimana Ngamba, PT was working with his mentor, HVO volunteer Maureen Pascal, DPT to create a website to provide continuing professional development (CPD) courses to Rwandan physiotherapists. Since launching the site in November 2016, Mr. Ngamba has expanded the scope of the project. The site now offers CPD courses to health workers in a variety of specialty areas in addition to physical therapy.

Both Ms. Musabyemariya and Mr. Ngamba remain committed to their own continuing education and professional development, as well as that of their colleagues. Ms. Musabyemariya is a two-time recipient of HVO’s Wyss Scholarship for Future Leaders in Global Health, which enabled her to attend an eight-week training course in India in 2016, and to attend the World Confederation of Physical Therapy 2017 Annual Congress in South Africa. Mr. Ngamba is pursuing his master’s degree in physical therapy so he can begin teaching some of the CPD courses offered on the website he created.

In light of the continued impact of HVO’s two-year, USAID-funded training project for Rwandan physiotherapists, HVO is thrilled to announce the launch of a new physical therapy project in partnership with the University of Rwanda College of Medicine and Health Sciences (CMHS) in Kigali. For this project, HVO and CMHS will recruit two to three volunteers per year to deliver CPD courses to practicing physical therapy clinicians like Ms. Musabyemariya and Mr. Ngamba. In addition to increasing clinicians’ clinical reasoning and practice skills, courses will impart principles of teaching and training, so that physiotherapists who complete the courses can share newly learned concepts with their colleagues in the field.

Learn more about the project, and our other volunteer opportunities for physical therapists, on our physical therapy program page. Ready to volunteer? Start the application process here, or support our work to improve global health by making a contribution here.

HVO’s physical therapy program is supported by the American Physical Therapy Association

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