In 1996, François Gishoma was running a successful construction business in Rwanda when he suddenly fell very ill. He quickly went into a coma and was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes at King Faisal Hospital, before spending 1.8 million Rwandan Francs to restore his health. After being discharged, he began to research the disease and connect with other diabetics living in Rwanda. While he had the means to pay for treatments, he recognized that the vast majority of Rwandans did not. As his complications increased, his construction business declined and he set out on a quest to start an association. In 1997, the Rwanda Diabetes Association was born. Initially, Francois was interested in exploring the realities of people who lived with diabetes during the genocide. Soon after, the activities of the association began to revolve around the opening of a clinic – the same one that we run today! Francois dedicated the rest of his life to serving people living with diabetes in Rwanda. The RDA became an official member of the International Diabetes Federation in 2003.
Diabetes is a major challenge for health and development in the 21st century. This chronic and incurable disease is largely preventable but remains responsible for millions of deaths every year and many more life-threatening complications. No country, rich or poor, is immune to the epidemic. According to the Diabetes Atlas, the prevalence in Rwanda is about 3.2% of the population. RDA is a non-governmental organization that was founded in 1997 with the mission of promoting diabetes care, preventing and curing diabetes in Rwanda, supporting diabetics and their families and joining the global efforts to advocate for diabetic people.