Media release: UNICEF and WHO congratulate Rwanda on decline in Child Mortality
KIGALI, 14 September 2012 – An annual report by the UN Inter-agency Group on Child Mortality Estimation (UN-IGME) indicated today that Rwanda has achieved the highest decline in under five mortality in East and Southern Africa. In just two decades, the country has reduced by two thirds the number of children under the age of five who die annually from preventable causes.
In a joint statement issued by the WHO and UNICEF offices in Rwanda, both agencies congratulated the Government of Rwanda on the incredible success.
“Rwanda has put its will, knowledge, tools and technology into saving children’s lives, including expanding access to quality services (and health insurance), increasing immunization coverage, introducing new vaccines to fight killer diseases and ensuring that every village is served by four community health workers. This is an incredible achievement and we warmly congratulate the President, the Ministry of Health and all partners for making a child survival a tangible reality for families across Rwanda.”
In their statement, both UNICEF and WHO went on to stress the importance of accelerating the reduction in under-five mortality by continuing to expand preventive and curative interventions that target the main causes of post-neonatal deaths and reach the most vulnerable children.
Most child deaths occur during the first crucial months of life and a child’s chances of survival improve when both mother and child are healthy and well-nourished. When women receive proper prenatal care, and have access to skilled birth attendants and to emergency obstetric care, the benefits for mothers and their babies are enormous.
According to WHO and UNICEF, saving lives requires an integrated approach, and one which Rwanda has taken up. Access to improved water and sanitation, hand washing with soap, exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of a child’s life, better nutrition for mothers and babies, and access to information about key family and parenting practices, are all crucial to prevent the needless deaths of countless women and children.
Education is another part of the equation. A child born to a woman who can read is much more likely to live past his or her fifth year birthday than one born to an illiterate mother. Every extra year of a mother’s schooling reduces the probability of an infant dying by up to 10 per cent.
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