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UNFPA proposes US $7 million for reproductive health

The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) has recommended a US $7 million programme to help the Rwandan government achieve its population and development objectives for 2002-2006.

"The programme will focus on improving the reproductive health services, with a major emphasis on behaviour change communication," Dirk Jena, the UNFPA representative in Rwanda, told PlusNews on Monday.

The proposed programme has been formulated in close consultation with the national authorities, according to UNFPA, and takes account of the government's development objectives set out in its 'Vision 2020' blueprint.

The proposed programme will, in order of priority, seek to end poor reproductive health and gender-related practices; improve population the database capacities and bolster those for national and decentralised development planning; and improve on limited community and household participation in redevelopment efforts.

Although the locations have not yet been chosen, the programme will be carried out in three of the country's 11 prefectures.

Jena said "particular attention" would be paid to providing reproductive health information as well as services to the youth; 60 percent of the country's estimated 8.6 million people are under 20 years old. The population already had "a relatively good knowledge" of how to maintaining good reproductive health, he added, "but this does not seem to be translated into attitudes and behaviour conducive to good reproductive health".

Use of modern contraceptives among married women of reproductive age was 4 percent, he said, "and condom use is even less prevalent".

Condom use is one of the main means to fight the spread of HIV/AIDS, he added, "and this will go hand-in-hand with the promotion of contraceptive use, such as oral contraceptives". The programme is expected to contribute to good reproductive and sexual health, to awareness that small family size will improve quality of life, protect the public against HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases, and help alleviate poverty.

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