Better access to healthcare for two million women in Burundi, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo: that’s the objective of a new programme Cordaid is carrying out in a consortium with I+ solutions, HDP Rwanda, Healthy Entrepreneurs and Swiss Tropical Public Health Institute. The Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs has made €30 million available for the programme.
The programme has been dubbed “Making sexual and reproductive health services work for the next generation”. Its aim is to provide a better future for young generations, reduce childbirth mortality among women through more effective family planning and alleviate poverty among families.
“There is a clear need for sex education and contraception in the African Great Lakes region, where the associated healthcare is also minimal,” says Cordaid health expert Christina de Vries. “The situation has serious repercussions for the health and wellbeing of women and young people. Moreover, because of cultural barriers, these groups are unable to take properly thought-through decisions when it comes to sexuality and family planning.”
Cordaid already supports health programmes for pregnant women in this area, so this new programme could be seen as supplementary. With this one, however, the focus is on preventing unwanted teenage pregnancies. These are often life threatening because teenage girls have little or no access to good obstetric help or because they often try to terminate their pregnancies with backstreet abortions.
More stability Improved healthcare for women and young girls will have a huge impact on themselves, their families and their communities. The region’s general socio-economic development will also benefit, adds De Vries.
“Over-population and a scarcity of land are sources of tension and conflict so, in an indirect manner, this programme is also contributing to stability.”
According to research, the availability of more contraceptives could reduce the amount of unwanted pregnancies in developing countries by up to 71 per cent. This would translate to 22 million less unplanned births, 25 million less abortions, 90,000 less deaths during childbirth and 390,000 fewer motherless children. There is much to do in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Burundi and Rwanda in particular.
A combination of approaches As a result of the collaboration within the consortium, the programme will combine a variety of methods and approaches, thus making it possible to thoroughly and extensively improve healthcare in these three post-conflict countries. The programme is focused on higher quality healthcare, better sex education for young people and improved access to contraception.
For their part, I+Solutions and Healthy Entrepreneurs are making more contraceptives available through hundreds of new distribution points. Cordaid is ensuring the programme is set up in accordance with Performance Based Financing methodology, an area in which it has many years of experience. Furthermore, with a mind to preventing unwanted pregnancies, Cordaid will make sure that sex education is made available on a large scale for girls and boys, through schools and youth organisations. Finally, Cordaid will expose and counter the local myths and superstitions relating to anti-conception.