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University of Rwanda, CIRHT launch new partnership

April 2, 2018
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Photo courtesy: Daniel Rivkin

The University of Rwanda and University of Michigan’s Center for International Reproductive Health Training have launched a partnership aimed at strengthening pre-service family planning training, and building faculty capacity with the goal of reducing maternal morbidity and mortality throughout the country. The two-year partnership will also work to enhance curricula and the research culture at the University of Rwanda.

Using CIRHT’s framework, the program will be tailored to Rwanda’s specific context with leadership from Stephen Rulisa, dean of School of Medicine and Pharmacy and his team of local experts.

“This partnership between the University of Rwanda and CIRHT is going to bridge the gap in capacity-building, knowledge for our nurses and midwives to deliver family planning in Rwanda, said Diana Gashumba, health minister of Rwanda. “Before, we were forced to take our nurses away from their working place to train them but today with this project, we hope that every nurse, every midwife, that is sent to the market will have the needed package of skills to deliver family planning to our community.”

Rwanda has made great strides in addressing maternal mortality and morbidity. But there is a rising fertility rate among rural women, due in large part to lack of modern methods of contraception and also a sharp rise in teenage pregnancies. In 2016, at least 17,444 teenage pregnancies were recorded, according to the Ministry of Health, with most girls dropping out of school.

Globally, the significant unmet need for comprehensive reproductive health services results in unacceptably high levels of maternal mortality and morbidity. One of the contributing factors is the shortage and lack of adequately trained workforce in the provision of comprehensive family planning. Current medical education in most developing countries does not include comprehensive reproductive health training, which leads to graduates leaving their health professional schools unprepared to provide reproductive health services.

Diana Gashumba, Rwanda Minister of Health. Photo courtesy: Daniel Rivkin

Dr. Rulisa will work with the dean of the School of Nursing and Midwifery and other departments to implement the new academic elements. “The core aim of this program is ownership. We are supporting people in terms of capacity-building to make sure that the services can be integrated into our policies and continue. It is a cornerstone of their philosophy. We have designed interventions appropriate to the local context.”

Janet Hall, managing director of CIRHT has worked with ten medical schools and hospitals in Ethiopia and welcomed the new partnership with Rwanda.

“In some ways this is an even more exciting collaboration because we have learned so much as a team, as a Center, we have learned so much from our engagement in Ethiopia, and all of you will be the beneficiaries of that learning.”

University of Rwanda Vice Chancellor Phil Cotton reminded the audience of the ultimate mission of expanding family planning training, access and service.

“Unwanted pregnancy is about fear, isolation, stigma. Because those are the things that that’s what goes through the hearts and minds and lives of young women. So whatever we do at the University of Rwanda, we have to remove those things that oppress people, and provide access, relative informality, dignity, love, justice.”

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