UR medical students move to improve refugees’ lives through the use of new technology trends

A group of students at the University of Rwanda College of Medicine and Health Science have come up with a project that leverages technology to overhaul the lives of children especially adolescents in refugee camps. Under ‘E-health project’ the students seek to introduce a new way of providing reproductive health education to young refugees starting with Mahama camp, one of refugee camps located in the Eastern Province of Rwanda.  

The move was prompted by a random visit made by Mr Sylvain Hirwa Muzungu in Mahama refugee camp.  Muzungu the project founder who is in year 4 General Medicine and currently the project leader said he was fascinated to meet young children who were the same age with him but later become devastated by their appalling living conditions despite the smile they put on their faces. To add insult to injury, he discovered that a big number of young girls in the camp have babies which was a turning point for him to reflect on the danger awaiting teenager in the camp as a result of lack of reproductive health education.    

 “In the camp, I met young girls with babies and this did not attract much of my attention as I was thinking that they are carrying their young siblings for immunization,” Said Muzungu adding that he later realized that the babies were their own following their intervention in the course of the discussion about reproductive health which was an obvious indication that they have limited access to information on reproductive health.

The E-health project was therefore envisaged to use technology with a view provide adequate and reliable information mainly related to reproductive health to refugees. In addition, the E-health for Refugees provide mentorship for young people especially girls with concerns about reproductive health using internet.     

Through their current website www.tantine.rw the project is able to provide most of pertinent reproductive health information. They have also developed an Android application ‘Tantine’ available on google Playstore and will soon launch it in Mahama refugee camp with complete and many features. The android application is a an opportunity for adolescents in refugee camps and outside as they will have a chance to interact, ask and get counselling from trained educators called Tantine.

“In order to increase access to internet in refugee camp, in February this year, we will launch ADORECenters; small ICT center with a small number of tablets where adolescents in refugee camps will be accessing our website and android application as well as getting other reproductive health services” added Muzungu.

The E-health Project also intends to integrate the use of Tantine website and its application in the University of Rwanda so that students can get reliable reproductive health information and services. They also plan to expand the project in other refugee camps in Rwanda and beyond.  

Mahama refugee Camp is located in Mahama Sector, Kirehe District, in Eastern Province, at about 270km from Kigali.  It  was  established  to  accommodate  thousands  of  Burundian  refugees  who  massively fled to Rwanda when political crisis related to  presidential  elections  culminated  into  violence  in Burundi.

Compiled and edited by Murangwa Darius Corporate Communication Office.

 

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