Rwanda marks another step in pioneering Child Survival
By Cyriaque Ngoboka
Kigali, Rwanda: May 6, 2012: On Saturday evening, at the tarmac of Kigali International Airport, a special cargo plane landed and ushered in a new chapter in child survival in Rwanda. The Minister of Health, Dr. Agnes Binagwaho, received the first doses of Rotavirus vaccine which are expected to significantly reduce the mortality rate of children who die as a result of diarrhoea. This followed the delivery of 111 vaccine storage refrigerators in March to ensure that the country was ready for the introduction of the rotavirus vaccine.
The Gavi Alliance donated 128,500 doses of the rotavirus vaccine worth over 2 Million $US, ensuring over 100,000 children under one access this lifesaving vaccine.
Receiving the vaccines, the Minister of Health, together with the UNICEF and WHO Representatives and a representative of USAID, Dr. Agnes Binagwaho, said that having the vaccines was a major achievement. “This was a missing link and yet diarrhoea is a major killer of children. Over 100,000 children preferably below the age of one will benefit from this vaccine,” she said.
She observed that the vaccine will, for the first time in East and Southern Africa, be introduced as a mainstream public health initiative.
Diarrhoea accounts for 19 per cent of all deaths for children under the age of five and is a major contributor to child mortality in Rwanda. The launch of this vaccine this month will drastically cut down the rates. Combined with the decline in respiratory infections thanks to the now common pneumococcal vaccine, the rotavirus brings to 10 the number of vaccines provided to children in Rwanda.
Child mortality has dropped radically from 152 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2005 to 76 in 2010 and the number of children and their families living in poverty has decreased from 56% on 2005 to 44% in 2010, according to the 2010 Rwanda DHS results.
Rwanda has made significant progress in realizing the rights of children and women. Over 95% of girls and boys go to school. Child mortality has dropped significantly from 152 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2005 to 76 in 2010 and the number of children and their families living in poverty has decreased from 56% on 2005 to 44% in 2010. Challenges still remain, particularly in relation to ensuring quality health, education and protection to the most vulnerable and disadvantaged populations – areas where UNICEF will continue to focus its efforts in the coming years.