This is new: As if Rwandans hadn't been through enough in the last few decades, the Rwandan government is setting up a shiny new male sterilization campaign with a goal of 700,000 vasectomies--"voluntary," of course. Hmmm.
A twist that I had not anticipated: The sterilization campaign is being bundled with a mass adult circumcision campaign for purposes, allegedly, of preventing the spread of disease. But this story, which does not appear to be from a source opposed to the program, gives the following frank quotation from the Minister of Health, Dr. Richard Sezibera: "We included circumcision because it allows us get to the men’s reproductive system and in the process we advise them on condom use and vasectomy.”
(Hello? Any liberals out there left with a civil libertarian bone in their bodies? Are you creeped out yet?)
There is one slightly confusing aspect to the PRI story. The line to the effect that many in the army will regard "it" as an order actually seems to have referred initially to the circumcision campaign in the army which began in 2008. See this cached blog post, from which the line seems to have come. PRI is conjecturing that, as the circumcision campaign was pushed in a dubiously voluntary manner in the army originally, this continuation of the campaign to the next stage planned by the government--the vasectomy stage--will be dubiously voluntary as well. The conjecture is probably sound, but the use of the quotation in the PRI story, preceded by the phrase "While many Rwandans balk at the idea of being sterilized," is misleading, implying that the original statement that "correspondents say many in the armed forces will regard it as an order" actually applied to sterilization, when in fact it applied to circumcision.
The vasectomy initiative is being assisted by two population control groups funded by the United States, IntraHealth International and Family Health International. The Family Health International web site contains the following gem of a quotation about another aspect of their work in population control in Rwanda (emphasis added):
This study addresses a possible intervention to help address the high unmet need for family planning among women during the extended postpartum period. The study trained immunization providers to provide women bringing their new child for immunization shots to understand when they might be at risk of an unintended pregnancy and to refer them to a family planning provider. Baseline data collection (March-June 2010) included 795 women more than six months postpartum who were attending vaccination services and 63 immunization and FP providers. . These data will be analyzed in comparison to the follow-up data, which will be collected in June 2011. The intervention is part of a growing global interest in the potential for integrating family planning and child immunization services.
Is that "intervention" as in "staging an intervention"? It would be, of course, an infinitesimal drop in the U.S. deficit bucket, but cutting funding for this kind of organization would be a nice place to start.