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June 11, 2008, Chapel Hill, NC—Preliminary data from a new national survey show a dramatic rise in use of modern contraception among married women in Rwanda, Africa’s most densely populated country, from 10% in 2005 to 27% in 2008.
The data are included in a new report—Family Planning in Rwanda: How a Taboo Topic Became Priority Number One—published by IntraHealth International, which has collaborated with the Rwandan government and local NGOs since the late 1980s to improve family planning services, among other public health-related work.
“Strong government leadership, better access to a range of contraceptive methods and health workers who are well-trained have contributed to this impressive increase in contraceptive use,” says Pape Gaye, IntraHealth’s President and CEO. “We are proud to be among the development partners working hand-in-hand with the Ministry of Health, the Government of Rwanda and the health workforce to make family planning and other health services accessible to the most vulnerable communities.”
The preliminary data, from a forthcoming MEASURE Demographic and Health Survey, were released by Rwanda’s National Institute of Statistics on May 30. In addition to the gain in modern contraceptive use, the data show a decrease in Rwanda’s fertility rate to an average of 5.5 children per woman, down from 6.1. Mortality rates have declined 28% for infants and 32% for children-under-five since 2005.
IntraHealth’s Family Planning in Rwanda report, written by Julie Solo and funded by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, notes “the tremendous social and cultural barriers” that family planning advocates have faced, including recovery from the 1994 genocide, a pronatalist culture and religious opposition to family planning. “But in this context,” states the report, “President [Paul] Kagame has declared family planning a national priority.” The government sees family planning as essential to poverty reduction and overall development as well as improved health.
“The quick extension of family planning services is due to good governance, empowering women’s decision making and education… and performance-based programs supported by very strong partnerships with development partners,” says Dr. Claude Sekabaraga of Rwanda’s Ministry of Health.
IntraHealth is also assisting the Rwandan government to strengthen its health workforce and systems and expand decentralized health care, including community-based HIV and malaria services. IntraHealth’s work in Rwanda is primarily funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).
IntraHealth International is a global health nonprofit that champions the critical role of health workers in health and development. For over 30 years, IntraHealth has empowered health workers to better serve communities in need, fostering local solutions to health care challenges by improving health worker performance, strengthening health systems, harnessing technology, and leveraging partnerships. The nonprofit’s work is supported and funded by the US Agency for International Development, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, private foundations, corporations and individuals.
Contact: Laura Hoemeke