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Rwanda Evaluates ICPD25 Commitments With Youth Engagement

by Daniel Sabiiti
11:28 am

Participants at follow-up meeting that reviewed youth engagement in the implementation of Rwanda’s commitments at the 25th anniversary of ICPD in Kigali

Rwanda has reaffirmed its focus on reducing maternal and child mortality rates to zero, as part of the country’s action plan in implementing its commitments to the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD).

Health Minister Dr. Sabin Nsanzimana made the statement at the ICPD25 Follow-up Action 2023 meeting on May 18, 2023, that evaluated six of Rwanda’s commitments to the ICPD25, which showed that progress has been made in most of the commitments except for a few.

During the ICPD25 held in 2019 in Nairobi, Kenya, countries renewed commitments to integrate population concerns into all economic and social activities, recognizing that reproductive health, women’s empowerment, and gender equality are the pathways to sustainable development.

These commitments had been made 29 years earlier in the first ICPD held in Cairo, Egypt in 1994.

Rwanda renewed its commitments which include but are not limited to a 15% increment of domestic budgetary allocation for health in line with the Abudja Declaration, putting in place necessary legislative, policy, and strategic frameworks which provide for all persons to have access to quality integrated health services.

UNFPA Deputy Country Representative Reneta Tallarico(L) with Rwanda’s Minister of Health Dr. Sabin Nsanzimana

Other commitments were: Increase Adolescent Sexual & Reproductive Health (ASRH) services utilization coverage; improve further family planning uptake and decrease unmet needs; strengthen governance systems that use reliable disaggregated data; Decrease Measles, Mumps, and Rubella (MMR) and increase Antenatal Care (ANC) attendance.

To support these commitments, Rwanda health sector development budget has for instance, increased from Rwf166.0 billion in 2020/21 to Rwf232.7 billion in 2021/22, representing 61.7% of the total health sector budget.

According to Dr. Nsanzimana, this budget allocation has enabled Rwanda to reduce maternal mortalities to 203 from over 1200 per 100,000 births and despite the fact that this number is stagnant, some districts have attained zero death rates.

“If we can achieve this in reducing maternal death, then other commitments can also be attained. Today we reaffirm that saving a mother and child is non-negotiable in Rwanda and as a country we want to prove this is possible,” Nsanzimana said.

Rwanda Minister of Health Dr. Sabin Nsanzimana

Nsanzimana said that the ten districts that have managed to reduce maternal deaths to zero will soon be rewarded at the national level but called for youth, health workers, and medics’ action towards achieving this goal.

Nsanzimana’s call is in line with acknowledging the critical role of youth in achieving the ICPD agenda, in which the Ministry of Health in collaboration with UNFPA and the African Youth and Adolescents Network on Population and Development (AfriYAN) organized an annual follow-Up Action 2023 meeting that focused on engaging Youth to Increase demand on Adolescent Sexual and Reproductive Health (ASRH) and accelerating the realization of the ICPD25 Towards ICPD30.

Addressing ICPD25 Challenges at Hand

At the meeting, the youth made their commitment to engage with the government in activities towards ICPD30 but showed challenges in the legal framework, engagement approaches especially as 5% of the youth get pregnant annually.

A presentation by Dr. Francois Regis Cyiza, the Director of Health Facility Programs Unit Maternal, Child and Community Health Division at Rwanda Biomedical Centre (RBC) showed that there are legal limitations on age for having the right to decide on human reproductive health which hinder access to SRH services by adolescents aged <18 (HRH law art. 7)

Panel discussion emphasizes the importance of youth engagement not just in execution but also in the creation of frameworks that involve and affect them

The report also showed a lack of financial sustainability, limited funding for Family Planning (FP) from domestic resources in a declining external funding landscape, and a shortage of health workers in remote areas and for health posts.

Dr. Evode Niyibizi , the AfriYAN Rwanda, Country Director said that there have been trained youth ambassadors from Youth-led Organizations as agents of change in reproductive health education but there is need for systematic meaningful youth engagement beyond onboarding them at ad-hoc levels.

Isabelle Kalisa, the Health Division Manager at the Imbuto Foundation said that partnership models have worked at the foundation and this can be replicated in addressing gaps noted towards ICPD30.

UNFPA Deputy Country Representative, Reneta Tallarico reaffirmed commitment and support to the implementation of Rwanda’s Commitments, continued collaboration, and partnership to support this important national endeavor and ensure that the ICPD25  Commitments.

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