Per Fugelli lecture 2019: Rwanda’s journey to an equitable health system

Open Lecture by Agnes Binagwaho on Rwanda's journey to an equitable health system, 25 years after the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi.


15:00               Welcome by Vice Principal Per Morten Sandset

15:00-15:45     Rwanda’s journey to an equitable health system: Agnes Binagwaho

15:45-16:15     Invited discussants: Ruth Prince and Unni Gopinathan

16:15-17:00     Global social medicine in the 21st century: What does it mean? Roundtable discussion with Amanda Hylland Spjeldnæs, Ida Sofie Skjæveland, Bjørnar Karmøy, Tom Israel Akambas, Noor Kahn og Agnes Binagwaho, chaired by Anne Kveim Lie

Students will be served pizza prior to the event, 14.30-15.00. There is no need to register for the event itself, but if you  want pizza please sign up on Facebook.


In the wake of the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi, Rwanda’s health system and so much more were completely destroyed. Many of the health workforce had been killed or exiled and the country was dealing with an HIV epidemic as well as various health issues that are faced by many post-conflict countries. There was an urgent need to rebuild the health care system, human dignity, and the country. 

Now, 25 years later, maternal and child mortality have dropped significantly, life expectancy has risen from 28 to 67, and Rwanda has some of the best HIV treatment and vaccine coverage numbers in the world, to name a few milestones.

This was not done through magic. It was a result of thousands of health workers coming together to rebuild with a shared vision based in equity and the principle that no one should be left out. It was also thanks to strong, accountable leadership with the political will and commitment to make the lives of ALL Rwandans better.

What lessons can be learned from Rwanda’s journey?

More about Professor Agnes Binagwaho

Professor Agnes Binagwaho is a Rwandan pediatrician who has served the health sector in various high-level government positions, first as the Executive Secretary of Rwanda's National AIDS Control Commission, then as Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Health, and then for five years as Minister of Health.

Currently, she is the Vice Chancellor of the University of Global Health Equity, an initiative of Partners In Health focused on changing the way health care is delivered around the world by training the next generation of global health professionals to deliver more equitable, quality health services for all.

She is a Senior Lecturer at Harvard and serves as Senior Advisor to the Director General of the World Health Organization and is a member of the United States National Academy of Medicine and a fellow of the African Academy of Sciences.

With over 150 peer-reviewed publications, her research interests include health equity and human rights, implementation science, and improving care delivery systems.

About Per Fugelli (1943- 2017)

As a general practitioner, Per Fugelli was an independent critic of his own profession for many years. He opposed the bureaucratisation of Norwegian health care institutions. Fugelli took a humanistic approach to health and social policy, focussing on the entire individual. He showed that the best "social medicine" is to build up and share dignity with vulnerable groups such as ethnic minorities, the poor and those who are physically challenged.

Through countless lectures and fearless participation in a large number of important debates, he was a prominent contributor to Norway's public space fora for a long time. He was awarded The Freedom of Expression Prize 2013

The Patient Earth

The topic of this seminar is based on an article from 1993: In search of a global social medicine (pdf) . After publishing the article, Fugelli and a group of students established a forum called "The Patient Earth". The forum inspired students and researchers at the Faculty of Medicine to focus on global health.

Event Committee

  • Espen Bjertness
  • John-Arne Røttingen
  • Anne Kveim Lie
Published Nov. 15, 2019 1:02 PM - Last modified Nov. 26, 2021 1:36 AM