On 28th September every year, the World celebrates international safe abortion day. The day was first celebrated as a day of action for decriminalization in Latin America and the Caribbean in 1990. In 2011, the Women’s Global Network And Reproductive Rights (WGNRR) declared 28 September as an International Day. In Rwanda celebration started in 2020. At the National level, Medical Doctors For Choice and SRHR Coalition joined Rwanda Biomedical Center (RBC) for the fourth celebration, an event that took place at Kinyinya Health Center / Gasabo District.

MDFC and the coalition members organized the National celebration of International Safe abortion day under the theme Ensuring Access to Safe Abortion Services for Women and Girls in Need: “Break Barriers, Saving Lives” aimed to review and commend the successes that Rwanda has made in expanding access to safe abortion and reduction of maternal mortality, and propose solutions to address the existing challenges in the implementation of laws and policies that affect reproductive rights of women and girls.

The main purposes of celebrating SAD 2023 were the implementation of the Ministerial Order n°002/MOH/2019 of 08/04/2019 determining conditions to be satisfied for a medical doctor to perform an abortion, To advocate for the availability and accessibility of safe abortion services for women and girls in vulnerable situations in Rwanda, To increase public awareness of women’s need for safe abortion, in order to increase public understanding and support.

“Unsafe abortion is a major problem in Rwanda”, with thousands of women seeking post-abortion care each year. The Director of KIBAGABAGA Hospital has emphasized the importance of providing information about safe abortion, as it is one of the leading causes of maternal mortality and morbidity.

Guests from Rwanda Biomedical Center (RBC) stressed on the legal safe abortion law, including who is involved and what is covered, and the role of the government.   Since the establishment of the ministerial order on abortion in April 2019, the RBC has reported that 1035 women and girls received safe abortions in 2020-2021, 1384 women and girls sought safe abortions in 2021-2022, and 1959 women and girls were provided with safe abortions across all public health facilities in Rwanda in 2022-2023. He also mentioned the importance of this day and said that it would increase information about safe abortion and the awareness on access to safe abortion as women’s health and rights.

Take home message, Public awareness of the need for safe abortion in Rwanda should be increased. All women and girls in need in Rwanda should have access to safe abortion services.

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