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The government has launched a new model that recommends expectant mothers to have at least eight antenatal contacts with their healthcare providers within the course of their pregnancy.

The new guidelines, also by the World Health Organisation (WHO), replace those introduced in 2016 that initially recommended at least four visits.

The guidelines, which were tailored to the Rwandan context, will respond to identified areas of antenatal care that are critical to saving lives, improving quality of care.

Speaking at the launch, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health, Zachee Iyakaremye, said that the new guidelines present a more comprehensive opportunity to respond and address antenatal areas that are critical to saving lives.

He pointed out that the process of developing the new recommendations highlighted the value of communicating effectively and addressing physiological family planning misconceptions and socio-cultural issues in a respectful manner.

“Research has shown that by implementing timely and appropriate evidence-based practices, antenatal care can save lives. Crucially, it is also an opportunity to communicate with and support women at a critical time of their lives,” he said.

He reminded that the government has scaled up high impact maternal and neonatal interventions to significantly decrease maternal and new-born mortality.

“These efforts integrate family planning services into antenatal, delivery and postnatal care. As part of increasing contraception uptake, we expanded contraception services to the lowest community level to increase accessibility and use for young people and people with disability,” he said.

He touched on family planning where he said that with contraceptive use, around 425,000 unintended pregnancies were prevented while approximately 780 maternal deaths were averted in 2021.

He called on all healthcare providers including obstetricians, general medical practitioners, midwives, and nurses who are responsible for providing antenatal care and family planning services at all levels to contribute to improving maternal and neonatal healthcare outcomes in Rwanda.

The UNFPA Adolescent and Youth Unit Team Leader, Therese Karugwiza reminded that over 600 women die from pregnancy or delivery related complications while around 5,700 new-born children die every year in Rwanda.

She reminded that these deaths can be avoided with antenatal care contact where most risks in pregnancies can be found and treated in a timely manner.

Karugwiza added that with the expansion from four to eight antenatal visits, some of the services will be brought closer to the women and will be performed by community health workers.

“Integrating family planning services into maternal health services can be an effective strategy for reducing unmet need, especially in situations where maternity care is a woman’s primary contact with the healthcare system,” she said.

Call for inclusion

Alliance Stella Ishimwe, a Rwandan youth representative working with Health Development Initiative (HDI) who moderated a panel under the theme, “No Woman Should Die While Giving Life,” welcomed the new recommendations and called for these guidelines to be inclusive of young people.

“These new guidelines are commendable and timely. What we would like to see next is their dissemination countrywide in such a manner that healthcare providers deliver these services to expectant adolescents in a stigma-free environment,” she said.

Additionally, Ishimwe called for a review of the laws and policies that continue to frustrate many young people’s quest for contraception methods.

The Executive Director of the Umbrella of Organisations of Persons with Disabilities in the fight against HIV&AIDS and for Health Promotion (UPHLS), Francois Xavier Karangwa, also touched on the challenges that people with disabilities still face in relation to access to Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights services.

“We are still facing challenges in accessing health facilities as well as equipment and materials like those used in communication. Most of these materials still don’t favour people with visual and hearing impairment and frustrate their efforts to enjoy family planning services,” he said.

He called for more efforts to be put in ensuring that all information and services are inclusive so that no Rwandan is left behind.

A Family Planning Business Case report developed in Rwanda in 2019 indicates that, on average, between 2015 and 2050, every Rwf 1,000 invested in family planning will yield Rwf 112,000 in returns. - Nasra Bishumba, The New Times


Natural landscapes, national parks rich in fauna and flora, the traditional drum and cultural diversity made of dances, are only some of the potential attractions of Burundi.

To prove it, the country hosted the 2nd edition of the Regional Tourism Conference and Exhibition (EARTE2022) from 23rd to 30 September. 

It was an opportunity for the government to reaffirm the will to transform tourism into a real business.

"The government of the Republic of Burundi is absolutely committed to supporting the tourism sector in order to exploit its full potential. We have prioritised it as an economic activity and we are therefore creating a political, legal and institutional framework for the effective development of this sector", said Prosper Bazombanza, Vice-President of the Republic of Burundi.

Guests and potential investors were taken on a field trip. 

 The first stop was to visit the Ikibira forest and the large tea plantations along its banks. A very special place according to the tourists.

"The place we came to visit today, it's great for me to see that I take tea, but I have never seen where it is produced. The place is really beautiful. I thank the Burundian government. It's really great. This is the first time I've seen tea", said Congolese Mireille Akinua. 

In Gitega, in the centre of the country, guests visited a drum shrine. 

People flock there to see the drummers as well as the royal house. However, these riches are not well promoted.

"The sites are magnificent but not yet well developed. It is true that we, who are in the private sector, try to do what we can to sell the image of Burundi, to talk about Burundi, to give a good service so that people come to Burundi and can come back and talk about it to others, but I believe that the government must also do something. And they have a big part in that", claims Dative Uwimana, Tour Operator Manager in Burundi.

The Regional Tourism Conference and Exhibition is an annual tourism event that brings together the seven countries of the East African Community. - Africanews


The arrival of the body of a 22-year-old student suspected to have succumbed to Ebola hemorrhagic fever created panic in Namulonge, Wakiso district on Tuesday. 

The ministry of Health burial team members - all donned in full personal protective equipment (PPE) quickly disembarked from a pickup vehicle that delivered the body. 

Several mourners who had converged at the deceased's family home were seen fleeing, giving way to the burial team that spent less than 30 minutes in executing the burial. The deceased who had been admitted at Kasangati health center IV hadn't been confirmed as an Ebola case by the time of the burial. Indeed today morning, the ministry said the deceased's results returned negative results. 

But the ministry of Health says all suspected Ebola cases are going to be subjected to the same burial arrangements going forward. According to Emmanuel Ainebyoona, the senior public relations officer at the ministry, they resolved to do this to minimize transmission risk in an event that samples eventually turn out positive.

Dr Stephen Ataro Ayella, a clinical epidemiologist says coming into contact with a body of a confirmed Ebola case or even a suspect puts one at risk of infection. He explains that the body can transmit the disease for up to a week as long as blood is still flowing.

"Even if the person has died, the virus can survive for some time under certain conditions. In some cases, a few days, or up to even a week the body can still be infectious because if it is in a body fluid and you're exposed to it or you touch you can get infected," said Ayella. 

Ayella who was also among the medical workers that Uganda sent to West Africa to help with the Ebola epidemic in 2014, says tests on suspected Ebola dead bodies are conducted by removing a sample from their throats. 

Ainebyoona says the ministry has been receiving several other alerts from different parts of Kampala and the neighbouring Wakiso but none of them has tested positive. The ministry of Health figures indicate that by Tuesday morning, the outbreak had been confirmed in only three districts; Kassanda, Mubende and Kyegegwa which returned positive results. 

Six cases were confirmed bringing the cumulative total to 24. The cumulative confirmed deaths are still five, although, eighteen other deaths occurred before tests could be conducted and surveillance teams were only alerted after burials.

Oral reports from Mubende district indicate these had symptoms consistent with the viral hemorrhagic fever just as the one that was buried today. 

While URN couldn’t obtain information regarding the deceased from health workers at Kasangati, Tom Muwonge, the LC III chairperson of Kasangati town council says the deceased was referred to Kasangati from a private health centre in Maganjo.

When he arrived, the chairperson said he was in a critical state. The deceased’s relatives and the boda boda cyclist who transferred them to Kasangati have since been quarantined. - URN/The Observer

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