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Health Week keeps up momentum on improving child survival in Rwanda

© UNICEF video
Children set out to receive services and key life-saving interventions during Rwanda’s Mother and Child Health Week.

By Misbah Sheikh

KIGALI, Rwanda, 29 September 2008 – Rwanda recently celebrated its first-ever week to promote the health and well-being of its women and children.

This nation is already on track to achieve the Millennium Development Goal of reducing young mortality by two-thirds by 2015. Its first Mother and Child Health Week was organized by the government with support from UNICEF and other partners to ensure continued progress on child survival.

“Some 1.3 million children under the age of five, and over 400,000 women, will receive critical health interventions such as immunization, de-worming and nutritional support in all 30 districts of the country,” UNICEF’s Representative in Rwanda Dr. Joseph Foumbi said before the health week began.

© UNICEF video
Twenty percent fewer children under five die today in Rwanda than they did eight years ago. Close to three-fourths of the population now lives within 5 km of a health centre.

Health indicators improving

Child health days and weeks are the heart of UNICEF’s Accelerated Child Survival and Development strategy around the world and substantially contribute to improving maternal and child health indicators.

In Rwanda, these indicators have been steadily improving. According to the country’s Demographic and Health Survey for 2007:

  • Infant mortality has decreased by almost half, from 107 deaths for every 1,000 live births in 2000 to 62 per 1,000 last year
  • Close to three-fourths of the population now lives within 5 km of a health centre
  • The rate of access to health insurance has also increased remarkably in the past few years, leading to increased use of health services and higher rates of assisted deliveries – up from 39 per cent in 2005 to 53 per cent in 2007.

Technical assistance and monitoring

Progress on child survival has come thanks to a variety of efforts – notably, improved maternal and neonatal care, increased deliveries at health centres, expanded scope of routine immunizations, community nutrition programmes, vitamin A supplementation campaigns and an aggressive malaria prevention programme.

“We are confident that these Mother and Child Health Weeks will keep the momentum going,” added Dr. Foumbi.

UNICEF provided technical assistance, supervision, monitoring, training, social mobilization and communication support to the organization of the recent health week.




UNICEF’s Misbah Sheik reports on Mother and Child Health Week in Rwanda.
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