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Saturday, July 13, 2024

Young African woman sets record as country’s first female Neurosurgeon, wins Africa Academic Excellence award

A brilliant African woman named Claire Karekezi has set a record as the first female Neurosurgeon in Rwanda and was awarded the Forbes Africa Academic Excellence award.

Claire, from Butare, Rwanda obtained her bachelors degree with honors at College of Medicine and Health Sciences, University of Rwanda before she proceeded to participate in an International Federation of Medical Student’s Associations (IFMSA) professional exchange at the Linköping Teaching Hospital in Sweden.

It was at the exchange Claire met Professor Jan Hillman, who inspired her to pursue a career in neurosurgery according to Wikipedia. She also did an elective program at the Department of Neurosurgery, John Radcliffe Hospital, Oxford University.

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In 2011, Claire was accepted into the World Federation of Neurosurgical Societies (WFNS) Reference Center in Rabat, Morroco for the training of African neurosurgeons.She completed her residency in neurosurgery in 2016.

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After her residency, Claire received further training in neuro-oncology. She spent three months at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, United States, as part of the American Association of Neurological Surgeons International Visiting Surgeon Fellowship.

Claire later completed a Clinical Fellowship in Neuro-Oncology & Skull Base Surgery at the University of Toronto, Toronto Western Hospital in Canada before returning to Rwanda in 2018 to become the country’s first female Neurosurgeon.

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In 2022, she was awarded the Forbes Woman Africa Academic Excellence Award. Claire has then been a member of multiple national and international neurosurgical societies. ”As a young ambitious woman, I believe you need to stick to your ambition. There is nothing impossible, you can dream big,” Claire said.


”I dreamt big, I didn’t really realize that I could become a Neurosurgeon at some point but I had people who believed in me and who saw the light in me and they guided me,” she added.

Claire stated that her achievement shows the importance of having parents, teachers, and mentors, but also of perseverance and dedication to what one wants to become.

She serves as the Chairman of the African Women in Neurosurgery (AWIN), an Executive Board Member at the Society for Neuro-Oncology Subsaharan Africa (SNOSSA), and a Secretary of the Rwanda Medical and Dental Council (RMDC).

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Aside from being the first woman neurosurgeon in Rwanda, she is one of the eight neurosurgeons out of a population of 13 million in Rwanda. She also serves as an advocate for women in neurosurgery.

Claire is currently a Consultant Neurosurgeon at Rwanda Military Hospital, a Senior Lecturer of Surgery at the University of Rwanda, and a Visit Faculty at the University of Global Health Equity, Rwanda.


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