NYARUGENGE - The Rwanda Medical Association (RMA) has embarked on a programme to improve the services provided to victims of Gender Based Violence (GBV) in health facilities.
This was revealed yesterday by Dr. Stephen Rulisa the vice president of RMA, who said that the resolution was made after establishing that the health sector has lagged behind in the fight against GBV.
He said this at the opening of a two-day workshop for health professionals with a major focus on the fight against Gender Violence, a workshop that took place at Hotel Des Mille Collines.
According to Rulisa, health professionals have a key role to play in identifying and addressing GBV because they are the ones who get in contact with the victims before any other person.
“We found out that health professionals were taking GBV victims like ordinary patients, we want to show them that these victims are special cases and if not attended to as quickly as possible, the evidence can easily disappear,” emphasized Rulisa.
Participants are expected to develop an action plan for the health sector in addressing gender-based violence in the two-day workshop.
Studies carried out in Rwanda including a 2008 report by Intrahealth’s ‘Twubakane Decentralisation and health programme’ have shown that health professionals and health systems are often unprepared to identify victims or to provide the needed and necessary support and care to the victims.
The report indicates that the general level of knowledge and awareness regarding GBV was only 35 percent among health providers interviewed from five health facilities.
According to the survey, non among the five facilities in which this study was carried out had the equipment, supplies, services and knowledge to respond to GBV.
Speaking on behalf of the Minister of Health, Dr. Claude Rwakabaraga urged the participants to always respond positively in providing services to GBV victims because by doing so, they would have done a service to the nation.
“GBV is both a human rights issue and public health issue, so it is important that health professionals are educated and actively respond to GBV in their communities,” said Emily Bancroft from Physicians for Human Rights.
She added that health professionals are central in fighting GBV because they can identify the victims and provide the necessary linkage to crucial social and legal services.
A report covering cases of GBV since 2005 up to 2008 by the Rwanda National Police revealed alarming cases of attacks against women including rape, defilement, subscription to corporal punishment and murder by their spouses.
It pointed out that during the last three years, 259 wives were murdered by their husbands, over 2,000 cases of rape were reported to the police, and there were over 10,000 cases of defilement of children below the age of 18.