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Abt Helps Rwanda Pass Policy Expanding Care from Pharmacists
Members of APPOR utilize the SHOPS Plus toolkit to develop an advocacy plan.
In February 2020, Rwanda’s Minister of Health approved a change in policy that would allow private pharmacists to administer injectable contraceptives. This change in policy was spearheaded by USAID’s Abt-led SHOPS Plus program and Association des Pharmaciens et Propriétaires d’Officine du Rwanda (APPOR), an association of retail pharmacy owners in Rwanda.
Since 2019, SHOPS Plus has been working with APPOR to advocate for this policy change, which will make it easier for families to obtain family planning methods. Engagement began with a workshop in Kigali during which association members articulated their objectives and actions to meet them. SHOPS Plus helped APPOR conduct several subsequent meetings with various stakeholders to explore how pharmacists could meet all technical considerations required to administer injectables. The stakeholders included the Pharmacy Council, which regulates the pharmacists’ profession, the Rwanda Food and Drug Authority, which regulates pharmacy premises, and the Rwanda Biomedical Center, which coordinates all service delivery activities for the Ministry of Health, among other stakeholders.
According to Danny Mutembe, president of APPOR, “It was a great experience working with SHOPS Plus, which provided the necessary technical support in influencing the policy change in Rwanda that gives pharmacists and nurses operating in private pharmacies a more important role in family planning.”
In November 2019, APPOR formally submitted its request in a letter to the Minister of Health and received a positive response in February 2020. This policy change is groundbreaking in Rwanda, where health provision is dominated by the public sector. It shows a commitment from the government to increase participation of the private sector and improve access to contraception for women in Rwanda.
While the policy has changed, the work is not yet over. The next step is to organize a meeting with all relevant stakeholders on operationalizing the policy. Mutembe shares his excitement, saying, “Rwanda has taken the lead in Africa in redefining the role of pharmacists from simply dispensing family planning to their administration within private pharmacy premises. And this is just the beginning!”