Rwanda: migrant health guide

Advice and guidance on the health needs of migrant patients from Rwanda for healthcare practitioners.

Main messages

If the patient is new to the UK:

Screen all new entrants, including children, for tuberculosis (TB).

Offer and recommend an HIV test to all adults from Rwanda, and consider offering an HIV test to infants and children who have recently arrived in the UK.

Offer to all sexually active individuals:

  • a full sexual health screen
  • safer sex health promotion advice

Consider screening for hepatitis B, particularly among those who have recently arrived. Rwanda has an intermediate prevalence.

The prevalence of HTLV is high.

There is a high risk of malaria.

There is a risk of typhoid infection.

Consider nutritional and metabolic concerns.

Infectious diseases


Ensure that all patients, especially children, are up-to-date with the UK immunisation schedule. See Immunisation collection with complete schedules.


There is a high incidence of TB in Rwanda (40 to 499 cases per 100,000), so:

  • screen all new entrants (including children) for TB according to NICE guidelines
  • refer to TB services promptly if screening is positive
  • maintain long term vigilance for symptoms of TB even if initial screening is negative
  • be aware that TB is a notifiable disease

Sexually transmitted infections and HIV

There is a high rate of HIV in Rwanda (>1%), so:

Although recent global data on STIs are not available, countries with high HIV rates tend to have higher rates of STIs, and the range of STIs encountered in Rwanda may vary from those in the UK, so offer to sexually active individuals:

  • a full sexual health screen
  • safer sex health promotion advice by referral to local genito-urinary medicine services.


The prevalence of Human T-cell lymphotropic virus (HTLV) is high. Refer to further HTLV guidance about testing and treatment.

Hepatitis B

Rwanda has an intermediate prevalence of hepatitis B, so:

  • consider screening for hepatitis B, particularly those who have recently arrived
  • offer screening for hepatitis B to all pregnant women during each pregnancy
  • immunise appropriately babies born to mothers who are hepatitis B positive, and follow up accordingly
  • be aware that the UK has a universal infant immunisation programme for hepatitis B and a selective immunisation programme for higher risk groups

Hepatitis C

Rwanda has a higher prevalence of hepatitis C than the UK, so consider screening for hepatitis C if other risk factors apply.


There is a high risk of malaria in Rwanda, mainly due to P. falciparum, so:

  • test any unwell patient who has travelled to or from affected areas of Rwanda in the last year
  • remember that malaria can be rapidly fatal


There is a risk of typhoid infection in Rwanda, so:

  • ensure that travellers to Rwanda are offered typhoid immunisation and advice on prevention of enteric fever
  • remember enteric fever in the differential diagnosis of illness in patients with a recent history of travel to or from Rwanda


There is a risk of soil transmitted helminth infections.

Travel plans and advice

Ask opportunistically about any travel plans the patient may have to visit friends and relatives in their country of origin. People who travel to visit friends and relatives (VFR travellers) should visit the Foreign and Commonwealth Office for overseas travel advice and National Travel Health Network and Centre (NaTHNaC) for country specific travel advice prior to leaving the UK.

Nutritional and metabolic concerns


There is a low risk of anaemia in adults (estimated prevalence is 5% to 20%) and a moderate risk in pre-school children (estimated prevalence is 20% to 40%), so:

  • be alert to this possibility in recently arrived migrants, particularly for women and pre-school children
  • test as clinically indicated

Vitamin D

Consider the possibility of vitamin D deficiency in people who may be at risk due to:

  • darker skin
  • those who are not often outdoors
  • those who cover up most of their skin when outdoors

Vitamin A

There may be a risk of vitamin A deficiency.


People from Rwanda may be at risk of iodine induced hyperthyroidism due to excessive intake.

Women’s health

Reproductive health indicators

Reproductive health indicator UK Rwanda
Number of children per woman¹ 1.7 4.0
Use of contraception² 71.7% 53.2%

¹lifetime average; ²by woman of reproductive age or partner

Country profile

Health indicators and health care

WHO Global Health Observatory has a summary of health indicators and health care in Rwanda.

Culture, politics and history

BBC News and The World Factbook provide background information on the culture, politics and history of Rwanda.


Language Population (%)
Kinyarwanda (official)¹ 93.2
French (official) 0.1
English (official) 0.1
Swahili or Kiswahili² 0.1
Other 6.3
Unspecified 0.3

¹universal Bantu vernacular; ²used in commercial centres

Source: The World Factbook.


Religion Population (%)
Roman Catholic 43.7
Protestant¹ 49.5
Muslim 2
Other² 0.9
None 2.5
Unspecified 1.3

¹includes Adventist 11.8% and other Protestant 37.7%; ²includes Jehovah’s Witness

Source: The World Factbook.

Migration to the UK

There were over 4,000 people from Rwanda living in England and Wales at the time of the 2011 Census.

Source: Office for National Statistics.

Published 31 July 2014
Last updated 23 September 2021 + show all updates
  1. Updated country guidance on prevalence of communicable diseases and other health topics.

  2. First published.