Rwanda : Nyaruguru district: Health officials decide to strengthen fight against HIV/AIDS and increase family planning mobilization
60 health officials in Nyaruguru district, Southern Rwanda, on Wednesday ended a one-day self-assessment meeting and plan for the upcoming year of 2013 in their joint fight against HIV/AIDS and population mobilization on family planning.
The meeting, under the auspices of the department of health in Nyaruguru district and the Rwandese Association of Local Government Authorities (RALGA) in their shared project known as SSF (Single Stream Funding) HIV- RALGA funded by Global Fund (a local NGO), brought together, among others, heads of health centers and grassroots leaders in charge of social affairs at the sector level – all from Nyaruguru’s 14 sectors.
According to Emmanuel Musirikare, health officer in charge of monitoring and evaluation in Nyaruguru district, more still has to be done despite the district’s significant accomplishments over the last 2011-2012 fiscal year, which coincides with the 2011-2012 year of performance contracts.
“HIV/AIDS prevalence is still high. We are also still committed to ensuring that population growth matches economic growth”, said Musirikare.
Figures from Nyaruguru district commission to fight against HIV/AIDS point to a rather gloomy HIV/AIDS status in the 15-18 year olds – 10.3 per cent are HIV positive while 3.08 per cent of married couples two-time (cheat) with different partners without using condoms, therefore being at risk of catching HIV/AIDS and pass it on to their legal, marriage partners.
To reverse the trend, the district health authority plans, in the 2012-2013 year of performance contracts, to organize more football competitions involving the youth and spread the message against HIV/AIDS after the football matches and urge more men to use vasectomy – a medical technique to prevent men from being reproductive.
So far, the district health department reports, 114 men have undergone vasectomy.
Not everything seems gloomy though. To go by the district commission to fight against HIV/AIDS, male HIV contamination across Nyaruguru hit a record prevalence decrease of 0.5 compared to the rest of Rwanda in the 2011-2012 fiscal year while 55.7 per cent out of a 56 per cent population target embarked on using different family planning methods, that is 27,283 people out of a total of 48,976 people.
One of the participants is 57-year-old Xavérine Kamanzi. A primary school teacher and coordinator of the National Women Council (NWC) in Nyagisozi sector, Kamanzi admits the meeting has been food for thought for her.
“The HIV/AIDS status among the youth [10.3 per cent of 15-18 year olds are HIV positive in Nyaruguru] worried me a lot and I am committed to increasing mobilization and overturn the situation”, said Kamanzi, who heads 6,908 NWC members in Nyagisozi sector.
“I have also learnt that pregnant women, once HIV positive, can pass on the virus to their yet-to-be born babies”, Kamanzi went on. “ Even though I am yet to get elaborate knowledge on this and pass it to other women, this is already huge because I initially thought the virus, in this woman-baby scenario, could be only passed on during delivery”, she added, flabbergasted.
For Oscar Nzirera, project coordinator at SSF HIV-RALGA, capacity-building, through which the project is run, constitutes one of the three-component mandate of RALGA − others just being representation plus advocacy and lobbying.
“Under capacity building, RALGA, among others, has to ensure that elected grassroots leaders raise the population awareness about HIV/AIDS and mobilize the population for family planning”, said Nzirera.