Rwanda: New Campaign Seeks to Tackle Teenage Pregnancy, Promote Maternal Health

Rwandans are set to benefit from a three-year integrated health campaign aimed at promoting maternal and child health, as well as tackle teenage pregnancy.

Dubbed "Baho Neza Integrated Health Campaign," the drive is an innovative approach that, overall, focuses on Family Planning and Early Childhood Development (ECD) by addressing various health related issues, including the availability and accessibility of family planning services, as well as closing identified gaps.

The campaign was launched on Wednesday in Nyagatare and will be offering a variety of services.

They include; screening for children, deworming, vitamin supplements, family planning, dental, ophthalmology, skin disease screening, voluntary male circumcision, and information on health, among others.

These services will be offered through Rwanda Defence Force's outreach activities, as well as other partners such as Rwanda Biomedical Centre (RBC), the Ministry of Defence, Imbuto Foundation, One UN Rwanda, USAID, Partners in Health, Catholic Relief Services, SNV, the World Bank and Society for Family Health (SFH).

The campaign will be implemented in phases, two a year.

According to a statement, the campaign is geared towards ensuring healthy and happy families.

As a key partner in implementing the campaign, Imbuto Foundation will host edutainment sessions and special talks with key groups on positive parenting, parents-adolescents communication and family planning.

The organisers say that the drive will help tackle problems in maternal health.

Rwanda has made tremendous progress regarding maternal and child health, and is among few countries that met Millennium Development Goals 4 and 5, by reducing the maternal mortality from 1071 in 2000 to 210 per 100,000 Live births in 2015.

Family planning has significantly contributed to this reduction.

Despite the progress made, the Demographic Health Survey (DHS) 2014-2015 showed that Rwanda still bears a heavy burden of high neonatal mortality (20 per 1000 live births), high infant mortality (32 per 1000 live births), high under five mortality (50 per 1000 live births), high maternal mortality (210 per 100,000 live births) and high malnutrition rate (stunting 38%).

The country is also facing an increase in teenage pregnancy, which is now estimated at 7.3 per cent, according to available figures.

Additionally, 7% of adolescent women aged 15-19 years are already mothers or pregnant with their first child, according to the DHS 2015.

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