RWANDA – Medical Students for Choice promotes knowledge among future health care providers of abortion

Medical Students for Choice is a network of over 10,000 medical students and residents around the world.

In Rwanda, a 4th year medical student at the University of Rwanda recalls that since childhood, she has been hearing elders describe abortion as a crime and a taboo, and has shied away whenever the subject comes up among her peers, most of whom she says feel the same. As a result of such experiences, in 2012, a group of medical students at the University of Rwanda formed a chapter of Medical Students for Choice (MSFC) to help to promote the importance of reproductive health topics, including abortion care. 

MSFC has provided the main opportunity for Rwandan medical students to discuss abortion issues, and the burden of restrictions weighing on women’s health and reproductive rights in general, Dr Jean Berchmans Uwimana, an MSFC Rwanda programme facilitator, reported at a 9 June 2019 workshop on abortion care for medical students. 

“It is the role of healthcare providers to render stigma free medical services. In this regard, MSFC aims at empowering future healthcare providers to create a safe and favourable environment for girls with unintended pregnancies, as a way of preventing unsafe abortion,” said Jules Iradukunda. an MSFC trainer. “Few women understand that the law has recently changed and what their rights to abortion are under the new conditions, and a lot needs to be done to train healthcare providers to provide quality services to patients.”

MSFC works closely with Health Development Initiative Rwanda (HDI) – a non-profit organization that supports improvements in both the quality and accessibility of healthcare through advocacy, education and training. Dr Athanase Rukundo, programmes director at HDI, said, “As an organization that deals with sexual reproductive health, we believe that medical students are future healthcare providers,” he told KT Press. Through Medical Students for Choice, its officials, students should have clinical exposure to abortion care.”
SOURCE: KT Press, by Dan Ngabonziza, 10 June 2019 ; PHOTO by Francis Byaruhanga, New Times, 7 March 2018