Health personnel in the Gakenke District have decried the low turn out of women seeking family planning services during the recently concluded Mother and Child Health Week.
The Week was organised by the Ministry of Health was aimed at increasing health awareness in communities in order to reduce maternal and child mortality rates.
During the week, health personnel advocated for improved health of women and children and residents were sensitised about antenatal care, hygiene, nutrition, and HIV/Aids prevention and care for Aids patients.
According to a report released after activities, only 2% of residents sought family planning services at the Nemba Hospital. The hospital serves at least 12 Sectors.
In contrast, 90 % of residents turned up for Vitamin A, while 98% took worm tablets (Mabendazole), while those who had vaccination against tuberculosis recorded 2.7%.
Theodore Uwidutiziye, a nurse at Nemba Health centre, attributed the low demand for family planning services in the rural communities to lack of awareness and misinformation about contraceptives.
She says that whereas some rural women want to use family planning, they are still scared by possible side effects of contraceptives.
Uwidutiziye accused those who have suffered such side effects before of leading the negative campaign against the use of contraceptives.
She urged community health advisors to step up family planning awareness campaigns and to bring men on board too.
Earlier, while launching the Mother and Child Health Week, in Musanze District, the First Lady Jeanette Kagame, used the occasion to remind residents and health personnel that in Rwanda maternal mortality rates stand at 750 deaths per 10,000 live births, while 62 children die out of every 1,000 live births, and this calls for a robust responsive action in order to save lives of mothers, and children.
According to recent reports from the Ministry of Health, each year 2,767 women die from pregnancy related complications.
The same report shows that 13,000 infants die each year before the end of the first month of their life - while nearly, 28,800 children die before celebrating their first birthday.
Denis Niyomugabo, the coordinator of seven health centres in Gakenke District explained that the turn out of people seeking family planning services during the week was low because sites were set up in the open air yet residents are afraid of seeking family planning services openly.
Niyomugabo also suggested intensive awareness campaign involving local authorities, saying it should reach out to all families.
The social practices of polygamy, traditional importance attached to having many children and early marriages, have been blamed for the low attitude towards family planning in the Province.