Govt to lift restrictions on access to contraceptives for teenagers

After years of back and forth debate between activists, parents, and teenagers, the Government is reviewing a law that will see teenagers get easier access to family planning methods.

The development was announced Thursday by Prime Minister Eduoard Ngirente while appearing before the senate.

He was addressing members of the Senate on what the Government was doing in terms of budget, sensitisation, education, service provision with regard to promoting family planning in line with the country’s Vision 2050.

Responding to the issue of prohibitive laws, Ngirente pointed out that the Government was cognisant of the limits that the current law puts on teenagers, some of which he said could be blamed for the surge in the number of teenage pregnancies in the country.

Available statistics indicate that Rwanda registered 17,000 teenage pregnancies in 2016 alone.

Yes young adults below 18 are required to go with their parents to access contraceptives yet these are the most vulnerable when it comes to unwanted pregnancies. I would like to tell you that we are changing that because we found it inconveniencing,” he said.

He also informed the senators that, besides the recognised loopholes, a number of youths had petitioned several institutions pushing for the change.

Ngirente also acknowledged that it did not make sense to ask teachers to educate young adults about reproductive health and safe sex methods when the methods are inaccessible.

The President of the Senate, Bernard Makuza, requested for a synergy and ownership between social clusters saying that family planning plays a significant role in sustainable development.   

“If the approach that is being used now in terms of advancing family planning does not change, the Senate worried that we will not achieve what we want to by 2050. We need concrete answers to issues being faced by this programme,” he said.

Some civil society organisations have for the last few years campaigned for the provision of these family planning methods such as contraceptive pills and condoms to teenagers, with some calling for their distribution in schools.