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23 September 2019
Uptake of drug abuse research: Rwanda`s success story Print
Thursday, 18 October 2012 12:32

Research done into drug abuse among the youth of Rwanda has had significant impact in that country, not only changing its policy direction, but also giving rise to interventions by civil society and other stakeholders, ultimately leading to changes in behaviour at grassroots level. Many factors must have played a role in the success of the uptake of this research done last year and concluded earlier this year at the Kigali Health Institute, including the fact that the study was done in collaboration with the country’s ministry of youth, which one may assume indicates commitment on the part of the government. But the effective communication of the research findings to segmented audiences had to have played a major role in this success story.

KHI communications officer Thierry Uhawenihama collaborated closely with the directorate of research and the principal investigator, Maurice Kanyoni, in disseminating the findings of the study. These were announced at a launch workshop that brought together all stakeholders, including the ministries of health, youth and ICT, education, the Rwanda National Police, district mayors, teachers, researchers from other universities and civil society representatives.

The event was also well attended by the national media. Several media-related events took place in the run up to the launch, including interviews with the media and liaising with journalists. The research was subsequently communicated in all the national media, including print, radio stations and television. The communication strategy employed was appropriate because the research was of national concern and made good use of the channels and tools available.

The results have also been shared on external forums and with researchers at other institutions, and have been “translated” and packaged into clear and candid messages for the public. Several campaigns have been launched throughout the country—at grassroots level, in secondary schools and at universities, using sports, entertainment and education—as a result of which:

  • A technical committee to monitor substance use and abuse among the youth has been established in the ministry of youth and ICT.
  • A bigger committee composed of parliamentarians, ministers, police officers, the army and religious leaders has been established to keep an eye on the problem.
  • A module has been developed at the Kigali Institute of Education, in collaboration with the National University of Rwanda, to train anti-drug campaigners on the effects of substance use and abuse.
  • Intervention programmes by civil society have sprung up, for example one started by the Anglican Church Gahini Diocese.
  • An age-restriction has been placed on the sale of alcoholic beverages.
  • Police have stepped up efforts to clamp down on illegal drugs, resulting in an increased drug-related arrest rate.

These and other outcomes are testament to the successful uptake of this research done at KHI.