Whereas some Rwandan men will think twice, thrice or more about the decision to go for Non-scalpel Vasectomy as a family planning option, brave Bimenyimana Edison has revealed to Health Times that he is ready.
Non-scalpel Vasectomy is a simple operation on a man to prevent him from impregnating a woman. It involves minor surgical operation where the vas deferens (the tubes that carry sperm) are cut and sealed using thermal cautery. A relatively new family planning method targeting men, Vasectomy was first piloted in the districts of Muhanga, Rulindo, Nyabihu and Gicumbi. The Ministry of Health reports increasing number of men turning for the Vasectomy since its official launch in 2010. Doctor Leonard Kagabo from the Ministry was quoted as saying that Rwanda was the only country in Africa using the latest birth control method. Even some developed countries had not started using it fully then; only the USA, Canada and a few European countries, had begun using this latest method.
Edison, 27, and Mukagahire Felicita, 25, got married in 2009—a relatively young couple by African Standards is taking tough life decisions. They live at Nyagahenga cell, Gasura Village, Bwisyhura Sector, Karongi District in Western Province. Edison is a night watchman. During the day, he keeps in Karongi town looking for casual jobs to supplement his meager monthly income. The wife is a subsistence farmer which she does on a small piece of plot behind their house. They now have two children, a boy of 2 years and a girl of six months. Mama boy, as she’s commonly called by the neighbours had just returned back from Karongi Health Centre. She had gone for her “Injector Plan” routine. “I go for the injection every after 3 months. Today was the due date. I never miss it. It is free”, she said. Injector Plan method has no side effects, as Felicita confirms, apart from when the Doctor’s prescriptions are not followed.
The couple has decided to stop at 2 children. And to be quite sure Edison and wife have agreed that he too goes for a Vasectomy. Edison said: “Look, what is the point in giving birth to kids you cannot look after. We are poor so we need to give birth to those we can feed, educate and provide shelter and clothing to. I cannot imagine my children begging on the street of Kibuye town”. To Felicita, she suffered a lot with the pregnancy of her second baby. “We are villagers, so we depend on agriculture. Carrying my first born (son) on my back while pregnant was unbearable! Imagine a pregnant mother fetching water, digging, and carrying firewood on the head”.
Doing a Vasectomy to a man does not stop him from functioning sexually. Thus he can still cheat on his wife if he chose to. The same applies to a woman using injector plan as a birth control method—she can still conceive if she missed an injection on the prescribed dates and slept with a man. Edison and Felicita confess that they have given up on alcohol to build a stable family. “I and my wife used to drink before we got married. A drunkard has no control over sexual temptations, unwanted pregnancies, HIV/AIDS, Domestic Violence etc. So we decided to quit for the good of our family”.
Both are strong Christians and go to church every Sunday. Felicita said that one day the Pastor preached that using Injector Plan method kills a woman’s fertility and it is a sinful in the eyes of Jesus. Edison too asked the Pastor about Vasectomy. To his dismay, he was told it is an irreligious method. So, that’s the dilemma the two strong Christian are facing. Asked how they learnt about these and other family planning methods, they said through community based healthy workers, the radio program on Insangano Radio about Family Planning, Films and Plays (Drama) screened by SFH Rwanda.
SFH empowers women and couples to lead healthier lives by providing access to family planning and maternal health products and services. In partnership with the Ministry of Health and donors, SFH provides family planning products and services through training, community outreach and multi-media campaigns on family planning methods to increase access to family planning and to overcome the barriers that prevent women from using modern contraceptives. Reproductive Health programs are also promoted through adolescents in established youth centers managed in collaboration with Rwanda National Youth Council (RNYC) and Ministry of Youth (MINIYOUTH).