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Experts at the family planning conference in Kigali

How can data and government policies meet SRH needs in rural areas? Experts Suggest Collaboration and Inclusiveness

KIGALI, RWANDA – Typically in most developing countries, and in some developed countries, poverty tends to be concentrated in rural areas – meaning that the biggest concentration on poverty is in rural areas. However, development experts and policy stakeholders at the ongoing International Conference on Family Planning in Rwanda says collaborating with community workers and taking a holistic inclusive approach is key to fulfilling family planning and Sexual Reproductive Health (SRH) needs of rural people.

Sylvain Yuma, the Secretary General for Health in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) says involving community workers has made it easier for his country to reach many people in the rural areas.

“In DRC, we have adopted the principle of equity to achieve universal health coverage,” Yuma notes.

Family planning is one of DRC’s priority interventions.  Yuma says the country has already developed a plan to upgrade the law on family planning and has adopted a multi-sectoral framework that will help it harmonise the framework.

“As you know, many people do not have easy access to family planning services due to barriers like money. So we are trying to come up with a strategy that makes family planning services available and universal healthcare achievable in the country.”

While DRC contraceptive usage is low at 27 percent, Yuma believes community based distribution will help increase contraceptive prevalence rate. “We (global community) are at a stage where the state budget is limited and the question remains ‘how can we get the share from the small cake?’ But family planning is a key argument in budget arbitration because investing in family planning is beyond health benefit. Investing in family planning is not the only right thing to do; it is the smart thing to do.”

He urged governments to focus on domestic planning and see how local authorities can align family planning to the budget.

Fatimata Sy, the Director, Coordination Unit of Ouagadougou Partnership also shared insight on how her organisation has been able to include young people to achieve open access to family planning through the Ouagadougou Partnership which is a partnership between nine governments of francophone west African countries.

“There is a network of young people getting involved in family planning issues,” she states. “We have engaged these youths and religious leaders, so that they can be able to find their voice and relate it to their (and other people’s) needs. These youths are at the community and regional level. By working with them, they have helped us to identify strategies that are tailored to their needs. Youths are best advocate for policy change.”

Sy believes the key to opening access to family planning is for governments, especially in developing countries, not to look at family planning in terms of health but also integrate family planning investment into other sectors. “Future dialogue on family planning should involve addressing how to involve how to involve communities and countries into family planning discuss,” she says.

Enersto Pernai, Secretary socio-economic planning , Philippines, says since most of development information and data are gotten from rural areas where there is  high fertility rate and difficult access to health centres, “efforts on opening  family planning services should be concentrated in rural areas, especially in developing countries.”

Busayo Sotunde is a prolific writer with special focus on Business, Entrepreneurship, Reproductive Health and other development issues in Africa. Her articles have been published by different outlets including Investing Port and Ventures-Africa.com. She has a penchant for reading and sustainable development. Follow Busayo on Twitter @BusayomiSotunde
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