As Dr. Yvan Butera, Rwanda’s Minister of Health, and Edna Adan Ismail, the founder and president of the Edna Adan University & Hospital, came together during the inaugural TIME100 Africa Summit to talk about improving healthcare for African communities, one thing was made abundantly clear: “The wellbeing of people is central to the wellbeing of a country,” Butera said.

But Butera was quick to add that improving the overall well-being and resilience of Africa’s communities requires having better access to health services. Rwanda does this by investing in “human capital,” he said. For example, recently the government started a national campaign for mental health “to ensure people can be the best that they can be,” he said.

Now, Butera hopes the country will continue to invest in complex, specialized healthcare for better preventative care. “In the last 2 months, we did the first kidney transplant in the country,” he told the audience to a round of applause.


Adan, who is also the former Foreign Minister of Somaliland, joined Butera along with moderator Isabelle Lydia Masozera, the founder and managing editor of Masozera Africa, to talk about the gains her country achieved through the campaign against female genital mutilation—an issue that continues to plague women and girls across the African continent even today.

How Dr. Yvan Butera and Edna Adan Ismail Are Rethinking HealthcareAfter training as a midwife in Europe, Adan returned to her country and saw the issue firsthand in the women she was treating. “I began to ask myself, ‘Why have women been put through this?’”

“This gave me the courage to go after this harmful practice in my capacity as a health practitioner, as a Muslim woman, and as a citizen of my country,” she said.

Today, Somaliland has reduced the rate of female genital mutilation by two-thirds. “It was all of us together against something that is harmful,” Adan added.

The panelists also offered insights into the challenges ahead for African countries—most notably, a critical shortage of healthcare workers. “In Rwanda, we are at a crossroads to do tough things,” said Butera, before adding that the country is now focused not only on training more workers and scaling that training to remote regions but also in building up the infrastructure to support that growth.

How Dr. Yvan Butera and Edna Adan Ismail Are Rethinking Healthcare
Edna Adan Ismail, the founder and president of the Edna Adan University & Hospital

In Somaliland, which once saw just 18 midwives and 13 critical care doctors for a population of over 5 million, “we focused on human resource development,” said Adan. Now, she says she sees a future where Africa will have one million midwives. “That’s the way to go to save our mothers, who are the pillars of our society.”

For the first time ever, TIME has brought its iconic TIME100 franchise to Africa, bringing together international and regional leaders, influencers, and visionaries alongside members of the African TIME100 community for a daytime summit to discuss the solutions needed to build a better future and a gala to celebrate their accomplishments.

The TIME100 Summit Africa is sponsored by Visit Rwanda, Kigali International Financial Centre, and RwandAir.