On August 24, the National Steering Committee of the ICFP was launched in Kigali, Rwanda, during a one-day meeting at MARASA Umubano Hotel Kigali. Co-hosting the launch were the Rwanda Ministry of Health and the Bill & Melinda Gates Institute for Population and Reproductive Health, the conference co-hosts.
“We are delighted to be partnering with the Rwandan Ministry of Health for the 2018 ICFP,” said Jose “Oying” Rimon II, Chair of the International Steering Committee of the ICFP and Director of the Bill & Melinda Gates Institute for Population and Reproductive Health at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. “It will be wonderful to return to Africa for the 2018 conference, and to highlight some of the spectacular gains in family planning that are occurring in many parts of Africa today, as well as the challenges that lie ahead.”
Rimon also hailed Rwanda’s achievements in improving maternal health and reducing child mortality. Over the last 15 years, Rwanda has experienced tremendous achievements in family planning, and maternal and child health. The percentage of demand satisfied with modern contraceptive methods increased from 11.0% to 66.0%, and the needs met by modern contraceptive methods (mCPR) increased from 6.0% in 2000 to 48.0% in 2015. The total fertility rate reduced from 6.1 in 2005 to 4.2 children per woman in 2015, spectacular reduction of infant mortality from 107 in 2000 to 32 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2015, under-five mortality reduced from 196 in 2000 to 50 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2015 and the maternal mortality reduced from 1071 in 2000 to 210 deaths per 100,000.
Permanent Secretary of the Rwanda Ministry of Health, Dr. Jean Pierre Nyemazi, on behalf of the Government of Rwanda, said, “Today, I am happy to officially launch the National Steering Committee, and inform all Rwandans that we are now starting the preparations for the largest scientific conference on reproductive health and family planning.”
Gates Institute Senior Program Officer Kellie Welborn provided an overview of the ICFP. Professor Jeanine U. Condo, Director General of the Rwanda Biomedical Center, and Mark Bryan Schreiner, country representative at UNFPA Rwanda, also delivered remarks.
A portion of the launch was designated as a press conference, and journalists had the opportunity to ask questions about the ICFP. Twenty-six journalists from 22 media outlets, representing TV, radio, print and online media, were in attendance.
Afterward, the Gates Institute delegation met with the Hon. Minister of Health Diane Gashumba over lunch, to continue discussions about preparing for the ICFP.