Rwanda, Kigali, King Faisal Hospital

Since 2006, Chaîne de l’Espoir Belgium has supported the development of treatment for pediatric heart defects in Rwanda.


0.8% of newborns worldwide are affected by congenital heart disease.

The reference cardiologists who collaborate with Chaîne de l’Espoir Belgium in Rwanda observe an increase in this incidence in their country. The entire Rwandan territory is between 1,000 and 4,000 meters above sea level and initial studies show an influence of altitude on the rate of a type of heart defect called persistence of the heartdisease named “ductus arteriosus”.

Each year, 4.200 children are born with a heart defect, and children with acquired heart disease (rheumatic heart disease) are doubling that number. The action of the Belgian Chain of Hope, combined with the support of other international actors such as Team Heart, is part of a government program to fight against Non-Communicable Diseases in Rwanda, including a specific component for the in charge of heart disease. The common objective of these actors, in close collaboration with the Rwandan health authorities, is to gradually bring the local medical teams to be autonomous for the treatment of adult and pediatric heart defects.


The consolidation of skills and continuous training of Rwandan specialists in the various disciplines related to cardiac pathologies – anesthesia, cardiology, intensive care – in the pre-per and post-operative phases remain the cornerstone of Chaîne de l’Espoir Belgium project to support the development of specialized pediatric care in Rwanda. To do this, Chaîne de l’Espoir Belgium offers technical and financial support, notably through medico-surgical missions at the University Hospital of Kigali (CHUK) and King Faisal Hospital and through the funding of qualifying training. The medical and paramedical volunteers participating in these missions come from different hospitals such as UZ Gent, Saint Luc University Clinics, Jolimont Hospital, etc.


In addition to the interventions and care that allow many children to be cured (to date, 246 children with heart disease have been cured), these missions ensure:

  • the transfer of medical and paramedical know-how in the practice of pediatric surgery and cardiac catheterization, both for the diagnosis and for the treatment of pathologies,
  • the transfer of medical and paramedical know-how in the practice of specialized care in the acute and vital phases (anesthesia and intensive care) for all childhood pathologies (postoperative, post traumatic, infectious, etc.),
  • the transfer of technical know-how in equipment maintenance,
  • the provision of equipment and consumables not available locally.

The Chaîne de l’Espoir Belgium supports applications from members of the Rwandan multidisciplinary team for qualifying training through immersion internships and academic specializations abroad. Since 2009, six doctors (cardiologists, anesthesiologists and resuscitators) have benefited from a specialization at the Saint-Luc University Clinics in Brussels.

The Ministry of Health, in collaboration with the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Kigali, the Centre Hospitalier Universitaire de Kigali (CHUK) as well as the King Faisal Hospital (KFH), has recognized the importance for the country to invest in qualified local personnel, so that this type of pathology can really be taken care of in Rwanda and independently.

With this in mind, the country’s health and education authorities have supported the specialization training abroad of two Rwandan surgeons: in Kenya and South Africa, over a period of 2 to 5 years. The first of them, Dr Musoni, returned to Kigali and started heart surgery at King Faisal Hospital since September 2019.

In 2020, due to the pandemic linked to COVID-19, the support of Chaîne de l’Espoir Belgium was mainly focused on strengthening the infection prevention and control system so that the University Hospital of Kigali as well as King Faisal Hospital can take the necessary measures to avoid as much as possible the spread of the coronavirus within them and in particular by ensuring the protection of healthcare personnel, patients and their families.

In 2021, the Chaîne de l’Espoir Belgium plans to:

  • carry out at least 1 medico-surgical mission of interventional catheterization and cardiac surgery within the King Faisal Hospital
  • fund qualification training (3 months) for three staff members of the hospital’s pediatric surgery and intensive care unit: an anesthesiologist, a pediatric resuscitator and a resuscitation nurse
  • supplement the existing equipment and materials by providing surgical instruments specific to pediatric cardiac procedures.

The Chaîne de l’Espoir Belgium project in Rwanda is funded on the one hand by Rotary International and on the other hand by the association’s own funds, with support of the company Occlutech.



In the longer term, Chaîne de l’Espoir Belgium plans the following project as of 2022:

– the launch of a training project for mid-level health professionals across the country to improve the diagnosis, prevention and early management of pediatric cardiac pathologies nationwide;

– developing new partnerships with other hospitals in the country, to promote the referral and counter-referral system for pediatric cardiac pathologies.


With the support of 

To cure a child is to offer him a future!