By Elias Hakizimana
Difficulties to access to information and inequality were put on top of the common threats hampering women and girls to access to sexual and health and reproductive rights.
This was revealed by Dr Jeanine U. Condo, the Director General of the Rwanda Biomedical Center (RBC) while officially launching the State of the world population report 2017 on October 17, 2017.
Dr. Condo who was representing the Minister of state in the ministry of health said that inequality remains the issue worldwide most especially in accessing health services.
The report was launched by Rwanda Biomedical Center in partnership with the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).
Dr. Condo said that the government of Rwanda has set up different programs to reduce such inequalities through social and economic development initiatives such as Girinka, Ubudehe, and many other programs, in order to address poverty.
“The state of world population report 2017 which has the theme of ‘World apart Reproductive Health and Rights in age of Inequality’ comes as an opportunity time, the government of Rwanda is starting the new strategic program for the next seven years, we have the overall goal of transforming social-economic conditions of all Rwandans and aspiring to become middle-income country which does not leave no one behind.” Dr. Condo said.
Dr. Condo highlighted that the government of Rwanda recognizes that addressing inequality is one of its priorities and started developing strategies to make that happen.
She gave an example of decentralization policies including education for all and universal education among others.
“In the same spirit, the government of Rwanda initiated Vision Umurenge Program (VUP) as you know: Umurenge , Girinka, Ubudehe, and many other programs in order to outreach the price for poverty.” Condo said.
She said that as a result, over one million people were absolutely graduated from poverty between 2008 and 2012 according to the UNFPA report.
Condo said that the mandatory and awareness of the community health is setting to scale up the community health programs and demonstrated tangible results in these inequalities to have care coverage to access and utilization of health services.
“This has made Rwanda among the few developing countries that have achieved sustainable development goals (SDGS4 &5).” Said Condo.
Given that population of Rwanda is female, 52 percent, Dr. Condo said there is a need to concentrate deliberate efforts in empowering everyone including women and girls to make the right decisions towards reproductive health especially family planning.
“For example, unwanted pregnancies can set emotions and miss-opportunities and unrealized potential placing women and children in an endless circle of poverty that can continue generation to generations.” Condo noted.
“We should intensify our efforts to address inequalities which are still impeding women and girls to enjoy sexual and reproductive health rights, especially whether to decide on having children.” She added.
In her key message to the community, Dr. Condo said that all women and girls have rights to all services including health, rights to the information, rights to access health services and education services.
“The government has to notify what is happening, they can see different key indicators in health about Millennium development goals (MDGs), they cannot reach to those indicators if inequalities still an issue.” Said Condo.
Helen Nomugisha, a young girl who gave testimonies of challenges facing young girls to access health and reproductive rights, highlighted that lack of information on reproductive health remains an issue.
Nomugisha said that parents should take first responsibility to share information with children especially girls.
“There should be empowerment of girls and they should be oriented where to find information about health and reproductive rights. Our community also should be trained on how to change mindset towards assisting girls to know their health and rights,” said Nomugisha.
Mark Bryan SCHREINER, UNFPA Representative to Rwanda said that UNFPA is proud of partnering with the government of Rwanda to launch the flagship report of the state of the world population themed ‘Women and reproductive health and rights in age of inequality’.
He said that the report focuses on investing in everybody in order to achieve sustainable development and specifically tackling economic inequality.
“Inequality can divide people, between those who can and those who cannot, teenage pregnant cannot enjoy her reproductive rights, cannot stay healthy, cannot complete education, cannot find work outside home, message today is investing in sexual and reproductive health rights for all, and especially for young people, family planning is key towards the global development, women can have access to the growth, access to make choices, access to contraceptives and family planning is good investment.” Said Schreiner.