Rwanda to host 5th International Conference on Family Planning

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Participants follow proceedings at the launch of the national steering committee in Kigali last week. / Lydia Atieno

Rwanda has registered significant progress in the health sector, particularly in family planning. This was revealed last week by officials during the launch of the national steering committee for the fifth International Conference on Family Planning (ICFP) slated to take place in Kigali from November 12 to 15, 2018.

Organised by the Bill &Melinda Gates Institute for Population and Reproductive Health, the launch was supported by Ministry of Health (MOH), Rwanda Biomedical Centre (RBC) and UNFPA.

Uganda, Senegal, Ethiopia and Indonesia are the countries where ICFP was launched in previous years, Rwanda being the fifth. Rwanda was chosen to be the fifth country following the recognition of the spectacular achievements that the country has registered in the health sector.

During the launch, the officials said the increase of contraceptive prevalence for modern methods is currently at 48 per cent from 4 percent in the year 2000.This is also accompanied by massive achievement in the area of infant mortality rate, which reduced drastically from 107 to 30 in 2000 and 2015 respectively.

Mortality for children under five years also reduced from 196 in 2000 to 50 death per one thousand life births in 2015, as well as the fall in the maternal mortality from over 1,000 in 2000 to 200 deaths in 2015.

Oying Rimon II, the director of Bill & Melinda Institute for Population and Reproductive Health, said Rwanda is a unique country and is on course to realising and enhancing their own demographic dividend.

“This is because as a country, it has wisely and successfully invested in human capital, especially in health and education of its people and in family planning,” he noted.

Mark Brian Schreiner, the country representative, UNFP Rwanda, said achieving the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030, will depend significantly on how well the sexual and reproductive health and rights of women and young people are fulfilled. According to him, catering to their unmet need for family planning is among the most cost-effective investment overall.

He also lauded the role of media in raising public awareness and sharing information about the importance of family planning, as well as in promoting women rights and health.

Schreiner said the success that has been achieved largely is due to communication campaigns at the community level.

“When women and girls have access to family planning, they are able to complete their education, create and see better economic opportunities as well as fulfill their full potential. This helps them to be independent in future and help their families, communities and the nation in general,” he said.

According to Jean Pierre Nyemazi, the permanent secretary of Ministry of Health, the government has promised to work with ICFP to ensure they improve family planning.

“We have a goal of achieving 70 per cent of contraceptive uptake. The conference is going to be one of the resources where strategies can be drawn to reach to the level Rwandans deserve,” he said.

Nyemazi called upon all development partners to join their efforts to make the conference successiful.

“As a country, we are now starting the preparations for the largest conference in productive health and family planning,” he said.