Addressing reproductive behaviour issues among Rwanda’s youth
The future Shaping the youth into responsible citizens
Reproductive behaviour among the youth has become a great concern among Rwandans. This was cited during a workshop held by UNFPA (United Nations Population Fund) on Thursday, 23 February 2012 at the UNICEF Country Office, Kigali.
Both boys and girls will benefit from the services, for instance most boys are still bothered with the essence of circumcision and its impact on sexuality while girls need to know more about contraceptives and family planning. Therefore, services such<
The workshop was in a bid to predict the end line evaluation of UNFPA 6th Country programme that focuses on changing young people’s fertility behavior. This includes but is not limited to the prevention of HIV/AIDS and sexually transmitted diseases (STIs) among youth.
In an interview with The New Times, Victoria Akyeampong, UNFPA Country Director, said that there is need to influence youth to access family planning.
“Any success achieved in the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) depends on the youth. Over 69 percent of the population is comprised of youth and the issue of their sexuality is very important, especially when Rwanda is preoccupied with curbing the population growth rate,” Akyeampong explains.
“Additionally, the issue of adolescent teenage pregnancies cannot be ignored and, therefore, it is very important that we target problems that address sexuality needs among Rwanda’s youth,” she adds.
Integrating sexual reproductive health services for young people by creating youth friendly health services and developing national norms and standards that offer quality services appropriate to young people’s needs, Akyeampong says, would increase reproductive health awareness among the youth.
Consequently, the goal is for UNFPA to collaborate with health establishments such as the Rwanda Biomedical Center (RBC) to develop youth friendly health services in most district hospitals.
UNFPA is currently working with six youth friendly centers in Karongi, Rusizi, Nyagatare and Gicumbi districts.
According to Akyeampong, the youth are entitled to a special section just for them.
“We have trained people to receive and counsel them. We are making commodities available for them to make a choice without worrying about bumping into a relative who will probably pass the scenario on to their parents about a condom and birth control purchase. I think that will be a good breakthrough for the youth,” she explains.
Jean de Dieu Sibomana, Manager at Rusizi Youth Centre, says youth friendly health services are offered at the centre on a daily basis.
“Over 30 to 50 youth are counseled at the center daily. We work every day and organise regular training sessions on different topics. For instance, we trained 72 peer educators to address sexual reproductive health services in the 16 sectors of Rusizi District,” Sibomana said.
He also said that each sector has four peer educators who include two boys and two girls because they are gender sensitive. Other youth-friendly services that are offered at the centre include; employment promotion, income generating activities, sports, culture and environment protection services.
Innocent Ninsiima, the Regional Youth Caucus Representative for Rwanda in the Commonwealth, said these services would help address the challenges youth face regarding their sexuality.
“Most times, youth are scared to freely talk to doctors because they don’t feel comfortable. However, if these services are within reach, they will find it easier to open up as long as the confidentiality is made a priority,” Ninsiima said.
Ninsiima emphasizes that the introduction of these services is a brilliant answer to sexuality questions that bother the youth.
“Both boys and girls will benefit from the services; for instance, most boys are still bothered with the essence of circumcision and its impact on sexuality while girls need to know more about contraceptives and family planning. Therefore, services such as the ones being offered in hospitals are beneficial,” Ninsiima said.
UNFPA engaged IPACT, an evaluation firm attached to the University of Aberdeen, to carry out an end line evaluation of the 6th Programme of Cooperation between the Government of Rwanda and UNFPA.
The evaluation involved fieldwork, interviewing partners and drafting reports. It focused on UNFPA’s key programme dubbed, Reproductive Health and Rights, Population, Development and Gender.
UNFPA, in collaboration with the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning, organised the workshop to validate the evaluation report.
Professor Abott Pamela, the lead consultant of the end line evaluation, said Rwanda has made tremendous strides in health.
“There is concern about sexual behavior. There is clear evidence that young people have great knowledge and understanding and are taking on appropriate behavior. But there is significant effort to put into that from this research,” Abott clarified.
As a researcher, Abott has sensitised the youth about appropriate reproductive behavior.
“With all these youth friendly centres and services offered, the youth will feel comfortable going in and talking about things that bother them,” she explained.
The 6th Country Programme is based on national priorities defined in the Economic Development and Poverty Reduction Strategy (EDPRS) 2007-2012, and the United Nations Development Assistance Framework (UNDAF), 2008-2012. Additionally, the National Development Plan (Rwanda Vision 2020), the Millennium Development Goals, the International Conference on Population and Development Action Plan, and the Maputo Plan of Action, all contributed to its formulation.
Dr, Fidel Ngabo, the Coordinator of Maternal and Child Health at the Rwanda Biomedical Center, said a lot has been accomplished with the UNFPA partnership ,especially in reducing maternal mortality rates in Rwanda.
“In collaboration with UNFPA, issues such as training nurses and midwives in child birth, provision of contraceptives, obstetric fistula care, treatment for GBV (Gender Based Violence) at one stop centers for GBV, and youth friendly reproductive health services are all addressed,” Ngabo explains.
Dr, Ngabo also said that UNFPA donated ambulances that operate in and around Kigali.
Therefore, with the establishment of reproductive health services that are youth-friendly, Rwanda is venturing into a path that will see the creation of a generation that is informed about their reproductive health rights. These would, consequently, change their reproductive health views and those of their peers.
Contact email: Doreen.umutesi[at]newtimes.co.rw