In the Republic of Rwanda, the sovereign state in central and east Africa, over 200 separate genocide survivors are being consulted to receive gratis, or free, plastic surgery.
When one thinks of plastic surgery, one often thinks of runway models or rich media celebrities. Though cosmetic or aesthetic surgery is the best-known kind of plastic surgery, most plastic surgery options are not derived from exclusively cosmetic purposes. In fact, plastic surgery is a medical specialty concerned with the "correction" or restoration of form and function, which means plastic surgery is inclusive of many types of reconstructive surgery to include microsurgery and the treatment of burns.
According to AllAfrica.com, a website that aggregates news produced primarily on the African continent, the Indian and Nigerian Rotary club have sponsored numerous specialists to provide aid for the 200+ survivors in a ten-day movement being dubbed the “2013 Rotary Medical Mission to Rwanda for Plastic Surgery”. The operations and treatments will all be located at the University teaching hospital of Kigali (CHUK). This unprecedented ambitious and charitable effort has been organized by the Government of Rwanda in partnership with the Rotary International and the Rotarians from Rwanda and Indian Rotary clubs.
Dr. Théobald Hategekimana, the director of CHUK, has issued a statement saying that this activity is the result of advocacy by Assistance Fund for Genocide Survivors (FARG) and Genocide Widows Association (AVEGA). The beneficiaries would be genocide survivors who were considered in need of particularly special plastic surgery. Their needs would be established by an initial screening documenting the individual’s status. Says Dr. Théobald Hategekimana to AllAfrica.com, “This is a great initiative since the country is in shortage of specialists in plastic surgery because we have only one specialist in this domain.”
The process is not without a certain amount of bureaucracy, local leaders still have to select the individuals who are being considered for surgery. Patients need to present proof of FARG documents verifying their own genocide survivor status as well as their health insurance card. Despite the prolonged approval process, these beneficiaries have appreciated the assistance, inasmuch as they would very rarely be able to afford such costly operations otherwise. Still, the requirement and approval of providing some documents is worrisome to some. "We were only selected and told that we have to show up here today. They did not tell us what we are supposed to bring", says one of beneficiaries to AllAfrica.com. So much process and paperwork has made some individuals worry that they have not been informed with enough time to present all the necessary documents to obtain the surgery.
While 200+ genocide survivors have been assured treatment, there still remains well 3,000 other survivors who are need of similar operations. Hopefully this charitable effort will not suffer from the bureaucracy that has challenged its success and that the treatment will continue for years to come.