Rwandan Graduate Focuses on HIV/AIDS and Human Rights Challenges
Mr Olivier Nsanzabaganwa, an Independent Medico-legal Consultant from Rwanda, graduated with a Master of Laws for his thesis titled: “The Clinical and Human Rights Challenges Pertaining to HIV/AIDS and TB Co-Infection in South Africa.”
His dissertation discussed the clinical, ethical and legal challenges pertaining to HIV/AIDS and TB co-infection in South Africa by making an analysis and evaluation of health policies and laws. ‘I also aimed to clarify to what extent the existing health policies and laws could achieve the protection of rights of those living with these diseases,’ said Nsanzabaganwa.
He was prompted to do the thesis because of his distaste for injustice. ‘I always feel I can do something if I speak out against injustice. This is why I have chosen to advocate for the rights of those living with these diseases in South Africa, making advocacy in order to challenge patent policies and laws for the promotion of sustainable health care service and patients’ rights,’ he said.
‘During my research, I found that the scarcity of health care personnel and infrastructure, stigma and discrimination, drugs interaction, lack of information and poor patients’ compliance among the population, undermine the prevention and treatment of these diseases. Therefore, management and control of these diseases will depend on the revision of patent laws and the consolidation of counselling to encourage patients ’adherence, political commitment and finally, the increase of funds in spending on these diseases and in human resources.’
Nsanzabaganwa faced language and financial difficulties while reading for his degree, but he was determined to graduate. ‘Firstly, I experienced difficulties working in English because I did my previous studies in French. Secondly, I was a self-sponsored student while doing my degree, so I had a few financial problems.’
Nsanzabaganwa’s supervisor, Professor Yousuf A Vawda, of the School of Law commended him on his commitment to his studies and overcoming the language barrier. ‘Olivier is a Rwandan national for whom English is only a third language. He struggled to deal with this medium as both the graduate level (LLM) and the complexity of subject matter (medical law) require engagement with fairly technical language. Despite this he applied himself with singular commitment to his studies and completed his dissertation on the clinical and human rights challenges of HIV and TB co-infection in the South African context, which I supervised. He was also able to count on the excellent language support provided by Dr Caroline Goodier, the Postgraduate Research and Writing Coordinator in the School of Law,’ said Vawda.
‘The School of Law wishes him every success in his endeavours,’ he said.
Nsanzabaganwa thanked everyone who had helped him on his journey to completing his degree. ‘I would like to acknowledge the academic and support staff from the School of Law, and especially my supervisor, Professor Yousuf A Vawda, for his academic support and encouragement. I can’t forget Dr Caroline Goodier who took care of me and helped me to improve my writing skills. I would like also to thank my uncle Thomas for his support - he was like a father to me.’
Now back home in Rwanda, Nsanzabaganwa is working as an Independent Medico-legal Consultant and plans to build a strong career in medical law. He aims to ‘continue with the advocacy in order to improve protection of patients’ rights by creating fair health policies and laws’.