First Lady Jeannette Kagame has urged the youth to take the lead in creating solutions that can address some of the most prevalent healthcare challenges.
Mrs Kagame was yesterday speaking at Youth Forum Series under the theme, “Smart Health Opportunities in Africa,” on the sidelines of Transform Africa Summit 2017, which is taking place at the Kigali Convention Centre.
“Issues affecting the wellbeing of this demographic group, which makes 40 per cent of our population, simply cannot be ignored, and it is our duty to empower our youth with life-saving information, while encouraging them to take a front seat in the efforts aiming to curb health issues affecting our communities,” she said.
The First Lady said the Youth Forum Series should serve as a platform to explore more ways through the most prevalent issues of the community can be addressed.
“Today’s forum provides a suitable platform to explore creative and entrepreneurial ways for the youth, institutions and other key players to address an important aspect of any community,” she said.
Citing Rwanda’s efforts to transform the health sector using digital technologies, Mrs Kagame indicated the role that youth have played.
“From the use of drones to deliver blood and medical supplies to hospitals, to centralising medical data from nationwide health institutions, to seeing our young people rewarded for using the latest technologies to improve service delivery in hospitals, we can certainly say that we are living in an exciting era, as we are witnessing the realisation of the immense possibilities, of the imagination,” she said.
The First Lady explained that the health of the Rwandan population has always been a national priority, and as such, an integral aspect of the diverse interventions carried out by Imbuto Foundation through the years.
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) director-general, Irina Bokova, told the participants that, while it is important to invest in young people, it is equally important to equip them with skills and knowledge that can enable them to innovate.
“As long as Africa is young, giving the opportunities to the young people to innovate and invent is probably one of the most important thing we can do. Investing in education is believably what can accelerate the whole process, which is why UNESCO is determined to put education at the forefront,” she said.
According to Mrs Kagame, Imbuto Foundation – where she is the chairperson – implements six projects linked to the health sector directly and indirectly and targeting different segments of Rwanda.
Through the programmes, the Foundation pays particular attention to the question of sexual and reproductive health of young people.
She urged the youth to integrate the lessons from the summit into their community work to impact the lives of many people.
Also present at the forum was Mrs Nana Travoada, the first lady of Sao Tome Principe.
iAccelerator winners pitched
Youth Forum Series provide Rwanda’s youth a platform to interact with leaders and experts on political, educational and professional aspects that are relevant to their lives.
The youth forum gave an opportunity to the first best entrepreneurs who won the Innovation Accelerator (iAccelerator) to pitch their ideas.
iAccelerator is a mentorship-driven acceleration programme that seeks to promote entrepreneurial spirit among the youth and encourage them to think critically and creatively on issues related to sexual reproductive health (SRH).
Following a nationwide youth competition of entrepreneurial projects addressing SRH, four best teams of innovators were selected, each winning $10,000 grant and an entrepreneurial training and mentorship package.
The four winners who pitched their projects are Umbrella, Girl District, Tantine, and Tubiganire TV Series, all technology-based solutions addressing SRH problems.
The programme is an initiative by Imbuto Foundation and UNFPA with funding from UK aid.