Rwanda Biomedical Centre (RBC) and the World Health Organisation (WHO) have introduced a family planning tool aimed at improving the use and access to quality services among all categories of users (women, men and adolescents).
Distribution of the Medical Eligibility Criteria tool, known as MEC wheel, started in Kigali with family planning focal point officers from 46 district hospitals during a workshop last week.
According to RBC, the MEC wheel provides guidance whether a woman with specific medical conditions or medically relevant physiological or personal characteristics can safely use a specific contraceptive method.
Dr Anicet Nzabonimpa, the family planning /HIV integration coordinator at RBC, said the new innovative tools comes with lots of advantages, ranging from helping family planning clients make informed choices on quality and rapid individual care.
“By helping women prevent unintended pregnancies, it can reduce unwanted births and unsafe abortion, and improve maternal and child health. These gains can also contribute to other development objectives, such as curbing poverty and slowing population growth,” he argued.
Nzabonimpa said some of the issues to be solved include cases of people who get side effects after being introduced to contraceptives without matching them with their health.
“Now, we hope positive changes with this tool which is very simple, easy to use and less time consuming. The only requirement is to rotate the wheel and immediately match the contraceptive to health conditions,” he added.
Joel Serucaca, a reproductive health officer at RBC, said as the country has over 400 public health facilities. Each will have three MEC wheels while private clinics will also be supplied to make sure everyone gets quality family planning services wherever they are.
However, RBC warned that the contraceptive methods indicated on the MEC tool do not protect against sexually transmitted infections such as HIV and Hepatitis B&C. Therefore, the consistent use of condoms is recommended if there is a risk of the mentioned diseases.
At least 19 per cent of married women have an unmet need for family planning (11 per cent for spacing and 8 per cent for limiting), RBC said.
The target for family planning use is to achieve 70 per cent of contraceptive use by 2018. This will be achieved through joint efforts from all stakeholders working in the health sector, officials said.