KIGALI - Health Minister, Dr. Jean Damascéne Ntawukuliryayo has said that Rwanda’s population growth rate does not match with the economic growth rate.
“The population which is currently over 9 million people is growing faster than the rate at which our economy is growing; the population growth rate of 2.7 per cent is still too high compared to the economic growth rate of 6 per cent,” Ntawukulilyayo said.
Dr. Ntawukuliryayo who was officially opening a one-day conference of laboratory technicians from all provinces at Lyceé Notre Dame de Citeau yesterday, urged participants and the press to sensitise the masses on the dangers of producing children they cannot raise.
The members are brought together under Association de Technologistes Biomedicaux du Rwanda (ATEBIR).
The minister said the government policy that limits the number of children per family to three children is aligned to government’s commitment to improve the living standards of Rwandans as spelt in Vision 2020.
“According to Vision 2020 every Rwandan will be able to live on $900 per year compared to the current per capita; achieving this goal every citizen must behave responsively by producing only the children they can afford to look after,” Ntawukuliryayo reiterated.
Throwing more light on the number of children he said three children is the limit but it is not mandatory.
“Do not produce three children if you cannot look after them; we are trying to tell our people to produce what they can look after,” he said, “I understand basing on individual incomes, some can afford one child and others hardly afford any child.”
Responding to the problems of the Lab. Technicians, which among others included; low recognition, poor remunerations and lack of opportunities for upgrading, the minister challenged the medical officials to be innovative and create jobs for themselves rather than wait to be employed.
He, however, quickly added that the government was concerned about the low remunerations.
He said as Rwanda joins the East African Community (EAC), the criteria for employment in a wide job market will be merit as contrasted to nepotism, tribe and other social classifications.
While stressing the government’s support for ATEBIR, the minister revealed that a plan was in the offing to have all the medical personnel united under one body.
“The idea of the association is good and the government supports you; it acts as a platform for you to echoe your concerns but soon all the medical staff will be united under one body,” the Minister said.
ATEBIR’s president, John Baptist Gatabazi, said laboratory services are the basis of all the other medical services.
He said it was in recognition of their vital role that they came together on May 20, 2005 in a bid to improve the quality of their services and to participate in national development in general.