July 29, 2011
Rwanda Ministry of Health launches program introducing misoprostol to reduce abortion-related deaths
(KIGALI, RWANDA) On Tuesday, July 26, 2011, at Lemigo Hotel, the Rwanda Ministry of Health (MOH) launched a national postabortion care (PAC) program to address the country’s high maternal mortality due to unsafe abortion. With support from VSI, the MOH is introducing life-saving misoprostol tablets to health centers and hospitals in four districts in efforts to equip health care providers with the knowledge and medication to effectively treat emergency cases of incomplete abortion and miscarriage.
Globally, approximately 70,000 women die each year from the effects of unsafe abortion, nearly all in developing countries. Because complications of abortion contribute significantly to maternal mortality in Rwanda, the Ministry initiated this program to build the capacity of health care providers to care for women suffering from abortion complications. Treatment with misoprostol is a safe alternative to surgical procedures to save a woman’s life after an unsafe abortion or miscarriage, and can be provided at facilities where other treatment options are not available.
This program will bring these essential services closer to Rwandan women living in rural areas by training providers on PAC at lower level facilities. The initial collaboration will reach approximately 10% of Rwanda’s population by covering five district hospitals and 49 health centers across four districts (Bugesera, Kicukiro, Nyabihu and Gisagara) with PAC services, including counseling and provision of family planning methods. Using Rwanda’s recently endorsed National PAC Protocol and training materials developed with VSI’s technical assistance, in October 2011, VSI’s Associate Medical Director Dr. Nuriye Hodoglugil and local physicians will conduct the training of trainers. Over the subsequent weeks, nearly 120 doctors, nurses and midwives will be trained in the use of misoprostol for treatment of incomplete abortion and miscarriage, including many not previously trained to manage this condition.
In addition to participation by maternal health stakeholders from Rwanda in the program launch, Professor Joseph Karanja, Associate Professor in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of Nairobi, and Dr. Emmanuel Rwamushaija, VSI-Tanzania Technical Director, shared experiences of successfully integrating misoprostol into health programs in Kenya and Tanzania, respectively.
With the goal of scaling up use of misoprostol nationally upon completion of the initial phase of implementation, Rwanda is among a group of African countries committed to getting this affordable and simple medication to the health care providers and women in greatest need.
To learn more about VSI’s work in Rwanda, click here.
 Singh S, Wulf D, Hussain R et al. Abortion Worldwide: A Decade of Uneven Progress. New York: Guttmacher Institute, 2009.