RWANDA – Training workshop about rights and legal frameworks pertaining to safe abortion for final-year medical students

The Health Development Initiative (HDI) is a Rwandan NGO that:

  • empowers communities to lead healthier lives by providing access to comprehensive sexual and reproductive health information and services,
  • provides communities with support, training, and health education, empowering them to prevent and treat illness, and
  • works with government institutions, policy makers, civil society organisations, communities, and individuals to advocate for and promote health-friendly policies and strengthen accountability on their implementation.

On 14-15 August 2020, they carried out an intensive, practical training workshop about rights and legal frameworks pertaining to safe abortion in Kigali, and was attended by over 40 final-year medical students who have already started working in different hospitals in Rwanda.

Although these students already had knowledge and hands-on experience with safe abortion, the training provided them with information on rights and legal issues from the perspective of both the patients and health care providers in relation to safe abortion practices.

One of the participants told The New Times that the training had made her think more about the right of adolescents to safe abortion and access to contraceptives and that the training made her understand that there is more needed than the content of the laws when it comes to safe abortion and adolescents.

Rwandan law provides that a woman can terminate a pregnancy of up to 22 weeks under five conditions that include if the pregnancy is a result of rape, forced marriage or incest, or if she or the baby are at health risk. Just over a year after Rwanda last changed the law on abortion, the number of women seeking abortions appears to have increased.

HDI alone said they have assisted up to 154 women who approached them for information via their toll-free telephone line from January-June 2020. They are working to train more health care providers and gynaecologists in the near future about safe abortion.

SOURCES: Health Development Initiative website; The New Times, by Ange Iliza, 17 August 2020 + PHOTO