The government is considering increasing access to condoms and contraceptives in an effort to curb the growing number of teenage pregnancies.
The latest figure shows that at least 17,444 girls aged 15-19 years got pregnant in 2016.
“The figures are alarming and we are thinking of drafting a new policy to update sexual health campaigns to promote dialogue between teens, their parents and educators, and also increase the availability of condoms, especially in places where teens are likely to meet,” said Espérance Nyirasafari, the Minister of Gender Affairs and Family Promotion.
Sexual and reproductive health experts are calling for a shift in attitudes to address sexual and reproductive issues affecting young adults.
“Some parents still assume that their teenage children are not sexually active, but the statistics prove this wrong and should in fact prompt us to adopt new approaches to dealing with this problem,” Aphrodis Kagaba, a physician and human rights advocate told Rwanda Today recently.
The Ministry of Health said they are ready to offer adequate contraceptives, especially condoms because other methods require assistance from a healthcare provider.
Sabin Nsanzimana, the director of HIV Disease Prevention and Control at Rwanda Biomedical Centre said
,“There are 25 million condoms available in the country annually. They are distributed through various channels with 20 million being sold in corner kiosks and shops; four million are distributed freely during awareness campaigns, at health centres and by community health workers. About one million condoms are distributed through condoms kiosks set up in hot spots.
“The condoms are suitable for all age groups, including young adults and teenagers,” said Diane Gashumba, the Health Minister. Most parents and religious leaders in the country continue to claim that “the only safe sex for the unmarried is no sex.”
Yet, the rise in cases of unwanted pregnancies among young girls is proof that children are engaging in unprotected sex because many of them fear buying condoms.