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Rwanda’s medics banned from using mobile phones while on duty



Healthcare providers in Rwanda will be prohibited from using mobile phones while on duty in order to speed up healthcare service delivery to patients, the ministry of health has announced.

The directive effective March 1 will ensure better service delivery the announcement said.

The ministry made the decision to implement the policy after officials agreed that speaking for long on personal phones affects service delivery in the health sector.

Speaking to Xinhua on Friday, Dr Diane Gashumba, Rwanda Minister for Health, confirmed the development saying that the use of cell phones by medical workers on duty was a challenge to improved healthcare services to patients.

“They (healthcare providers) were sharing best practices with reports indicating that some hospitals, which banned use of personal phones, proved to be more productive,” Malik Kayumba, the head of the health communication division at Rwanda Biomedical Centre was quoted by africanews.com.

As expected, the announcement has drawn mixed reactions with some people agreeing that the move is positive and there is need to ensure the decision doesn’t backfire.

‘‘The ban applies to all health facilities during working hours. Patients have been complaining of medical workers who spend a lot of time on phone calls while on duty forcing patients to wait for long,” Dr Diane Gashumba noted.

Dr Gashumba stated that healthcare facilities will be fitted with office telephones for staff to use related to the care of patients and other emergencies. She said the ministry will now discuss how to implement and enforce the ban. This directive will affect all healthcare professionals in the country, and it is part of policies the government is developing to optimize better service delivery.

Rwanda targets to improve service delivery to 80 percent by 2017. The country’s healthcare system operates roughly 440 health centers, 34 health posts which are mainly involved with the outpatient programmes such as immunizations and family planning services, a number of dispensaries, and 48 district hospitals.

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