More Rwandan women opt for birth control

Saturday June 18 2016

At least 1.2 per cent of the women in Rwanda have had tubal ligation while only 0.8 per cent of the men have had vasectomies. PHOTO | CYRIL NDEGEYA

At least 1.2 per cent of the women in Rwanda have had tubal ligation while only 0.8 per cent of the men have had vasectomies. PHOTO | CYRIL NDEGEYA 

By Daniel S. Ntwari

Rwandan population is likely to drop in the next decade as a result of more women opting for permanent birth control methods such as tubal ligation.

The population is believed to be at 12.5 million today, with over 50 per cent being in the youth bracket.

Current statistics show that at least 1.2 per cent of the women population in Rwanda have opted for permanent birth control while only 0.8 per cent of the men have done the same.

In less than a year, the female tubal ligation programme has seen a bigger uptake compared with vasectomy which started in 2011 as a regular service.

This has also been backed by growing trends in use of contraceptives indicating an increase in uptake of modern methods from 10 per cent in 2005 to 48 per cent in 2014/5 according to the Rwanda Demographic Health Survey (DHS).

The Northern Province leads in the uptake of contraceptives with 55 per cent, followed by Kigali at 50 per cent, the southern and eastern at 48 per cent and 47 per cent respectively and the lowest being in the western with 41 per cent.

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Even though these developments may positively impact on the government agenda of having at least three children per Rwandan family, experts says that this trend has been caused by economic issues.

While the tubal ligation and vasectomy services have not been fully implemented countrywide, some districts like Muhanga have seen a large participation with over 100 men seeking the service compared with only one woman in the area.

Women in urban centres have used more than one contraceptive hence showing that Rwanda’s efforts to promote family planning in order to address its rapidly growing population are clearly having tangible results, reflected in the Total Fertility Rate which has steadily declined over the years.

The average Rwandan woman’s fertility rate has also dropped from of at least 6.2 children per woman in 1992 to at 4.2 children in 2014/15 according to the DHS.

Statistics on fertility trends indicate that Rwanda’s population increased drastically between 2000 (5.8 children per woman of reproductive age) to 2007/8 (5.5 children per woman of reproductive age).

Experts says that though the numbers may be alarming, this doesn’t directly imply a population decrease as many rural women continue to produce more children due to lack of access to family planning services.

The current uptake of family planning services stands at 48 per cent from 45 per cent in 2010, being higher among educated than uneducated women especially in rural areas.

“There is more work needed to reach the 19 per cent who still lack these services. It is estimated that at least 300,000 children are born annually which is an equivalent of a district population and this is expected to hit 13.4 million if the rates doesn’t drop,” said Dr Anicet Nzabonimpa, the Reproductive Health, Family Planning expert at Rwanda Biomedical Centre.