This year's Challenge
This year, the iAccelerator programme is set to launch its fourth phase. This phase will focus on encouraging young people to think critically and creatively about issues associated with Sexual Reproductive Health, and more specifically in relation to disabilities and mental health issues.
Mental Health Status in Rwanda
There is no health without mental health. The World Health Organization (WHO) defines mental health as a “state of well-being whereby individuals recognise their abilities, are able to cope with the normal stresses of life, work productively and fruitfully, and make a contribution to their communities.”
Many mental health problems emerge in late childhood and early adolescence. Mental health issues constitute a major burden of disease for adolescents globally. It is estimated that up to one in five adolescents will experience a mental disorder each year, self-harm is the third leading cause of death for adolescents, while depression is among the leading causes of disability.
in Rwanda, the International Journal of Mental Health Systems reports a prevalence of psychiatric illness, more specifically among a population of 12 million, 24.8% suffer from PTSD, 15% are living with depression, and around 58% have anxiety symptoms (IJMHS 2014). Today, the number of health facilities responding to mental health illnesses are far outweighed by the demand for relevant services. As it stands today, Rwanda has 11 psychiatrists, 47 outpatients’ facilities, and 2 mental health hospitals. Additionally, Rwanda, along with the rest of the world has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, putting citizen’s physical and mental health at risk. The close of borders, confinement, the fear of contracting the virus, new working conditions, unemployment, as well as the closing of schools, are all elements that have affected the mental health of all Rwandans and residents of Rwanda, birthing the need for innovative solutions and responses to emerging challenges on this front.
Adolescent Sexual Reproductive Health (ASRH) Status in Rwanda
Rwanda has a youthful population. According to the Integrated Household Living Conditions Survey EICV5 (2016/17), about 78 percent of Rwandans are below 35 years of age. Rwanda is home to 3,170,311 youth (1,657,014 females and 1,513,297 males), who represent about 27 percent of the Rwandan population.
Additionally, young people, aged 15-24, represent over 20 percent of the total population in Rwanda (2012 Census), modern Contraceptive Prevalence Rate among sexually active women aged 15 – 19 is at 32.8 % (RDHS 2015), condom use at first sex is at 17 % for young women and 27 % for young men had by 18 years old (RDHS 2010).
Despite socio-economic development in Rwanda, young people still face enormous challenges related to Sexual Reproductive Health. According to the DHS (2015), for example, adolescent pregnancies rose from 6.3% in 2010 to 7.3% . Furthermore, youth-friendly services are still limited in scope and coverage; currently, only 13.6 percent of health facilities, nationally, offer these services. Addressing this challenge calls for adequate access to adolescent sexual and reproductive health services and information or health care.