First Lady Jeannette Kagame has urged elders to overcome the uneasiness that hinders them from ensuring the health of the young generation during their adolescent stage.
Mrs Kagame made the remarks in a special event about adolescent health during the World Health Organisation Africa forum that closed yesterday in Kigali.
“Let us continue to empower our young generations by opening up to them about the lessons we learnt over the years but also by making sure that they continue benefiting from what we did not have growing up,” she said.
“Whether it is an education system that includes comprehensive sexual and reproductive health information, the implementation of efficient youth friendly services via health institutions but most importantly by overcoming our uneasiness towards some aspect of our adolescents’ health because ultimately we owe it to them; to give them all that they need to fully thrive.”
The First Lady said the forum provided another valuable opportunity for citizens of Africa to respond to the “pressing call” to never cease exploring new ideas and approaches to improve the health of the youths.
“Indeed, we know the urgency of the situation on the ground; we need to establish well performing systems that rely on strong institutions with well-trained personnel to help counter a variety of our challenges, including increasing access to reliable health information and education for healthier lifestyles,” she said.
“As we are all aware, putting in place mechanisms promoting health for youths is vital if you want them to fulfill their potential and see them grow into thriving members of society and future leaders.”
The First Lady also took time to explain to the delegates the achievements Rwanda has made in reproductive health services and the general healthcare.
Among these, she cited the integration of a comprehensive sexual and reproductive health in school curricula last year, increased health coverage, where currently nearly 85 per cent of the population access health services, meeting all the three health-related Millennium Development Goals – Goal 4 for reducing child mortality, Goal 5 for increasing maternal health, and Goal 6 for combating HIV, malaria and other diseases.
Mrs Kagame also highlighted the work of 45,000 community health workers who provide primary healthcare to support institutions by counselling members at the community level to seek the right medical treatment in a timely manner.
She explained to the delegates some of the work of Imbuto Foundation in regard to ensuring the health of Rwandans.
“It is with the same spirit of finding solutions concerning health issues that Imbuto Foundation has aligned with the Government priorities and has put at the core of its mission the promotion of a healthy population. The Foundation has continuously placed at its forefront the health of our people with a special focus on the youth by implementing innovative health programmes for more than 15 years,” the First Lady said.
“If we join hands, we can overcome health and development challenges affecting our countries, the continent and beyond.”
Africa is the only continent in the world where the number of adolescents is predicted to increase over the next 50 years.
The proportion of the world’s adolescent and youth living in Africa is expected to rise from 18 per cent in 2012 to 28 per cent by 2040, while the shares for all other region will decline.