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Four million Rwandan children targeted for life-saving interventions

UNICEF Supports Government to Launch Second-ever Mother and Child Health Week

Rwanda, 24 March 2009 - During a week long campaign launched today by the Minister of Health, children and women across Rwanda will be reached with a package of key life-saving interventions to protect them from preventable illnesses.

Despite recent data that indicates a decline in the number of children dying in Rwanda from diseases such as acute respiratory illness, diarrhea and malaria, over 30,000 children a year do not make it to their first birthday.

“Fifty per cent of these deaths could be prevented,” said HE Richard Sezibera, Rwanda’s Minister of Health, while inaugurating the week, “but since all health facilities around the country are not yet equipped to offer key life saving services, we have decided that the best way to save lives is to organize these bi-annual Mother and Child Health Weeks”.

During this week, nearly one and half million children under the age of five will be targeted for key immunizations, deworming and vitamin A supplementation to boost their immunity, while an additional three million school children under the age of sixteen will get tablets to prevent intestinal infection. Over 300,000 pregnant women will receive anti-tetanus immunization and iron/folic acid as required, while some 48,000 recent mothers will receive vitamin A supplementation.

In addition to these critical interventions, families will also have the opportunity to access information on family planning, antenatal care, malaria, breastfeeding, hygiene, nutrition and the importance of health insurance.

UNICEF has provided over USD 350,000 to help make this week a success including assisting with logistics, training and social mobilization.

“We are pleased that through our procurement services, we have been able to support the government in bringing in all the vaccines and vitamin A capsules,” said UNICEF’s Representative to Rwanda, Dr. Joseph Foumbi.

UNICEF is on the ground in over 150 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence.  The world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS.  UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments.

For more information, please contact:

Hillevi Ekberg, UN Communication Adviser, Tel: +250 783159085, Email: hillevi.ekberg@undp.org
Cyriaque Ngoboka, Communication Specialist, Tel: + 250 788 30 52 21, Email: cngoboka@unicef.org




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