Launch of Rwanda's Advocacy Agenda on NCDs
Launch of Rwanda's Advocacy Agenda on NCDs at the National NCD Conference.

Rwanda launches new National Strategy on NCDs and an Advocacy Agenda of People Living with NCDs

07th December 2021

The Rwanda NCD Alliance co-hosts Rwanda’s first national conference on noncommunicable diseases (NCDs), providing a platform for the launch of two major reports, including a new National Strategy on NCDs and a national Advocacy Agenda.

Rwanda’s inaugural National NCD Conference was held under the theme of ‘Multisectoral Collaboration for NCDs and Universal Health Coverage (UHC)’ and took place on 25 and 26 November 2021 in Kigali, Rwanda. It was co-hosted by the Rwanda NCD Alliance and the Rwanda Biomedical Centre (RBC), Rwanda's national health implementation agency.

The conference re-launched Rwanda’s new National Strategy for the Prevention and Control of NCDs 2020-2025, the development of which was supported by the Rwanda NCD Alliance, which is also listed as a key implementing partner. Rwanda’s national strategy was initially released several weeks prior.

The new strategy expands on the commitments made in the previous strategy, aiming to advance health system strengthening for NCDs and UHC. It includes additional funding commitments over the next five years, in line with key advocacy demands of the Rwanda NCD Alliance.

The strategy includes objectives covering four pillars: prevention, health system strengthening, surveillance and increased multisectoral coordination. This fourth pillar will be rolled out through a National Multi-Stakeholder NCDs Coordination Committee, which includes the Rwanda NCD Alliance as the civil society representative, opening new opportunities for the Alliance to advise on NCD policies in the country.

Photo: Launch of Rwanda Advocacy Agenda at the Naitonal NCD Conference 2021. Courtesy of Rwanda NCD Alliance

The conference also saw the launch of the Rwanda Advocacy Agenda of People Living with NCDs which was officiated by Dr Francois Uwinkindi, Manager of the NCDs Division at RBC. Prior to the presentation, people living with NCDs were given an opportunity to be part of an interactive panel discussion that included RBC, the World Health Organization, and private sector representatives to highlight the role of different stakeholders in multisectoral collaboration in the NCD response. Recently trained Our Views Our Voices advocate Dr. Joseph Rukelibuga, who is President of Stroke Action Rwanda, represented people living with NCDs on the panel of discussions.

Phillipa Kibugu Decuir, founder of Breast Cancer Initiative East Africa, presented the overview of the Advocacy Agenda, amplifying the ‘nothing for us without us’ message and calling for people living with NCDs to be meaningfully involved in preventing and controlling NCDs in Rwanda. In her speech, she remarked: “When you tell me, I may forget. When you show me, I will remember, and when you involve me, I will understand.”

The Rwanda Advocacy Agenda is a tool to support and guide stakeholders’ efforts to improve prevention and control of NCDs and call for decision-makers to take action to positively impact the health of people living with NCDs through the amplification of their voices.

The agenda outlines the key asks of people living with NCDs in Rwanda under four pillars: human rights and social justice; prevention; treatment, care, and support; and meaningful involvement. The official presentation of the Rwanda National Advocacy Agenda of People Living with NCDs was preceded by a recorded keynote speech by Katie Dain, CEO of the NCD Alliance, where she spoke about the importance of and progress in global and country-led action on meaningful involvement of people living with NCDs.

In his closing remarks, Dr Uwinkindi applauded the outstanding work undertaken by people living with NCDs to bring together their lived experience and recommendations to decision-makers.

He said, “I would like to 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 on behalf of the Ministry of Health. It is evident that all of the recommendations spotlighted are feasible. 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 Noncommunicable Diseases 2020-2025 by emphasising on key focus areas.”

Watch the full launch here.

The Rwanda NCD Alliance is part of the Advocacy Institute NCDs and UHC Accelerator Programme and is also supported with the Our Views, Our Voices initiative, thanks to NCDA’s partnership with The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust.