Founded with a mandate to implement international health protocols
Family Medicine Specialist Dr. Wendy Leonard first came to Rwanda in 2006 as a volunteer clinical mentor sponsored by the Clinton Global Initiative. She expected to oversee the implementation of HIV protocols established by the Rwandan Ministry of Health. What she found was a medical community who was overwhelmed by illness and lacking in basic resources. They needed critical medical knowledge required to care for their communities, but the international development community thought they needed only protocols, supplies and medication.
In 2008, Dr. Leonard founded The Ihangane Project (TIP) with consistent support from the Medical Director of Ruli District Hospital, Dr. Jean de Dieu Ngirabega. TIP’s first project was intended to establish mobile HIV services at seven rural health centers in the catchment area of Ruli, Rwanda. The Global Fund generously donated the equipment and funds needed to establish complete HIV services at these sites.
To improve health outcomes, we had to address underlying economic and infrastructure needs
Unfortunately, the HIV services could not be implemented due to lack of access to grid electricity. So we quickly focused on establishing solar power at five health facilities. These systems continue to function today at the four sites that remain dependent upon off-grid electricity.
With this initiative successfully completed, The Ihangane Project and the community of Ruli, Rwanda embarked upon our most ambitious initiative. We established the lofty goal of eliminating Mother to Child Transmission of HIV while dramatically reducing malnutrition among HIV-exposed infants and strengthening the entire health care delivery system for 35,000 children under 5 years of age. And it worked!