Rwanda is home to more than 12.3 million people. With almost 30 anesthesiologists for the whole country, majority of the anesthesia is provided by nurse anesthetists. Majority of the anesthesiologists work in the main referral and teaching hospitals (about 4 facilities) in Rwanda. The nurse anesthesia training started in 1997 as an advance diploma course. Since then training opportunities for nurse anesthetists have been upgraded to Bachelor of Science level. The nurse anesthetists work in fifty hospitals across Rwanda, providing safe anesthesia for all surgical cases including pediatric and geriatric cases. These non-physician anesthetists work independently mainly in rural facilities where the staffing levels for anesthetists remain low. This insufficient number of trained anesthetists remains a significant barrier to safe surgery and the well-being of the non-physician anesthetists working in those locations. Burnout is a common occurrence.
“Investing in scaling up the training opportunities and quality of training for non-physician anesthetists will be extremely beneficial to the patients and to the country. Patients in rural areas depend on NPAs. Training them will not only enhance safe anesthesia but expand access to surgical services to patients where they need it most! We also need to develop strong research skills and practice for NPAs. We need data to inform efforts to improve our practice”
Jean Damascene Gasasira