Group to enrich Rwanda’s national strategy for the prevention and control of NCDs

From 25th – 26th November, Rwanda held the first-ever National NCD Conference in Kigali.

The conference brought together a cross section of stakeholders, including people living with NCDs, care partners, and the leadership of Rwanda NCD Alliance.

The event also witnessed the launch of the Rwanda Advocacy Agenda of People Living with NCDs.

Dr. Joseph Rukelibuga, who represented people living with NCDs, said they need to be given a voice in decision-making processes in regard to the prevention and control of NCDs.

“As advocates, people living with NCDs should be allowed to speak and share their lived experiences so as to identify gaps in approaches to NCD prevention and control that are frequently missed by institutions and organizations working in this field,” he said during a panel discussion.

“Our contribution is invaluable to creating a more equitable response to NCDs. However, there is still a long way to go before we reach a point where people living with NCDs can inform decision-making and have a real effect on policy.”

Dr. Rukelibuga’s remarks highlight the importance of the newly formed Rwanda Advocacy Agenda of People Living with NCDs, which is expected to provide an opportunity to further enrich NCD response strategies.

The Advocacy Group will also support the meaningful involvement of people living with NCDs in the NCD response, in addition to being a tool to guide the efforts of key stakeholders to improve prevention and control of NCDs and to call for decision-makers to take actions that will positively impact the health of people living with NCDs.

In line with the global advocacy agenda, the body will focus on four advocacy areas: Human rights and social justice; prevention; treatment care and support; and meaningful involvement.

Dr. Francois Uwinkindi, the Manager of Non-Communicable Diseases at the Rwanda Biomedical Centre (RBC), was the guest of honour at the event, representing the Ministry of Health.

He applauded the outstanding work undertaken by people living with NCDs in bringing together lived experiences and recommendations to decision-makers.

“I thank the Network of People Living with a diverse range of NCDs who contributed to the development of the Rwanda Advocacy Agenda of People Living with NCDs. This advocacy tool will undoubtedly aid in the amplification of People Living with NCDs and in the implementation of Rwanda’s National Strategy and Costed Action Plan for the Prevention and Control of Non-Communicable Diseases 2020-2025 by emphasizing on key focus areas.”

Dr. Rukelibuga represented People Living with NCDs on the interactive panel discussion that also included representatives from the Rwanda Biomedical Centre, World Health Organization, and the private sector, to highlight the role of different stakeholders in multi-sectoral collaboration in NCD response.

The Rwanda NCD Alliance was also commended for providing leadership in the consultative process that led to the formation of Rwanda Advocacy Agenda of People Living with NCDs.

Earlier, with support from the Rwanda NCD Alliance, representatives of people living with NCDs from the four Provinces and the city of Kigali, participated in face-to-face and virtual community conversations (focus group discussions) between June – October, 2021. In total, the consultative process involved 102 people living with diverse NCD conditions.  A team from Rwanda NCD Alliance facilitated the consultative engagements.

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