Rwanda has been cited as one of the countries in Africa using good approaches to ensure that all citizens engage in family planning as a means of achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDG’s).
The observation was made by family planning experts from USAID, at the opening of a conference yesterday in Kigali.
According to Mary Skarie, the Director of Regional Health and the HIV/AIDS East African office, each of the 12 participating countries is sharing approaches on how family planning services reach the populations.
“Although every country has its own story, Rwanda together with other countries like Ethiopia and Kenya have shown significant efforts to ensure that these services reach citizens and this is so due to high political commitment,” Skarie said.
“This country also uses community-based health workers who are located at the heart of every community, to deliver family planning methods at grass root levels – a very commendable step.”
Skarie therefore noted that other Presidents should show the same kind of commitment if such programmes are to succeed adding that it is also imperative to set aside a budget for family planning.
“My encounters with the Ministry of Health also proved that Rwanda has a FP budget and there are policies like health insurance which have enabled increased use of contraceptives,” she added.
Dr. James D. Shelton, a Senior Medical Scientist with USAID also concurred that there are lessons to learn in this country adding that use of injectables and vasectomy is becoming rather popular here.
“There is also integration of family planning with other services such as with immunization, maternal health and HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment services. People should know that when births are spaced at about 3 years apart, it’s a lot healthier for mothers and babies.”
The regional meeting which has participants from 12 African countries, aims at accelerating implementation of family planning programs in the review countries in order to address unmet needs by 2015.
Gender and Family Promotion Minister, Jean d’ Arc Mujawamariya and U.S. Ambassador Stuart Symington ,officially launched the one-week meet.
Countries represented include, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Kenya, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Nigeria, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia among others.