Starting an eHealth project in Rwanda was a long-time ambition of Pascal Coorevits and Marc Twagirumukiza, two professors at the Ghent University Hospital Campus. Read all about their journey... and how you can make use of the same opportunities!
( 22-05-2022 ) Starting an eHealth project in Rwanda was a long-time ambition of Pascal Coorevits and Marc Twagirumukiza, two professors at the Ghent University Hospital Campus. Read all about their journey... and how you can make use of the same opportunities!
"I came into contact with the Global Minds programme and VLIR-UOS projects quite by accident," says Prof. Coorevits. "During the lunch break at a European symposium in Rotterdam a couple years ago, I was introduced to Marc Twagirumukiza, a fellow UGent’er whose research focused on eHealth, just like mine. On medical data transfer, in particular." It was the start of a long collaboration.
Getting a travel grant
A few months went by and Prof. Twagirumukiza contacted Prof. Coorevits to ask him if he was interested in setting up a research project in Rwanda. "We got started right away. Luckily, our colleagues at the Partnerships Global South Unit were there to advise us and offer support, which allowed our work to lead to quick results."
They were able to procure a travel grant for a first mission to Kigali. During their visit to the University of Rwanda, the Ministry of Health and a number of local hospitals, the ideas regarding the project slowly matured in the heads of the two professors.
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Project grant application at VLIR-UOS South Initiative
In the end, their trip gave them the information and experience they needed to prepare an comprehensive project grant application at the VLIR-UOS South Initiative. Upon approval, a new world opened up for Prof. Coorevits: "Having done my share of European research projects, I’d gotten used to work packages, milestones, deliverables, etc. But this was something else entirely. The cultural differences, the state (or lack) of local research infrastructure and the long-distance collaboration were challenging - but offered us opportunities too!"
What Prof. Coorevits remembers most, is the way small suggestions to make certain adjustments had the potential to lead to tremendous improvements. "Recently, we were able to share some ideas during a visit to a hospital in Kigali, which led to organisational improvements with immediate results. Seeing the gratitude of the local doctors and patients was an indescribable experience. For me, a project of this kind is an enrichment and offers a welcome change to my other research and educational activities. I wholeheartedly recommend it to every one of my Ghent University colleagues.