Infant mortality down, says UN report

Rwanda has registered some positive trends in the reduction of infant as well as under 5 mortality and maternal mortality rates, a new report has indicated.
Aurelien Agbenonci.
Aurelien Agbenonci.

Rwanda has registered some positive trends in the reduction of infant as well as under 5 mortality and maternal mortality rates, a new report has indicated.

The 2008 ‘Tracking Progress in Maternal, Newborn and Child Survival’ report released at the recent International Countdown 2015 conference in South Africa indicates that Rwanda shows positive trends although it remains among countries that have unacceptably high maternal mortality rates.

The report shows that ‘few of the 68 developing countries that account for 97% of maternal and child deaths worldwide are making adequate progress to provide critical health care needed to save the lives of women, infants and children’.

In Rwanda, it observes that the country made progress in the reduction of infant, under 5 mortality and maternal mortality rates over the period 2000-2005.

It says that during that period, the country cut infant mortality rate from 107 per 1000 births in 2000 to 86 in 2005, while the under five mortality rate reduced from 196/1000 in 2000 to 152/1000 in 2005.

‘The maternal mortality has reduced from 1071 per 100 000 deaths in 2000 to 750 per 100 000 in 2005,’ the report added.

“The countdown 2015 calls for all development partners to join forces to increase support and funding to save lives of mothers and children,” the UN Resident Coordinator to Rwanda, Aurelien Agbenonci, said.

Countdown 2015 on maternal, newborn and child survival is a collaborative effort of UN agencies, non-governmental organisations, universities, and other institutions and individuals established to track progress towards Millennium Development Goals 4 and 5, to reduce child and maternal mortality, respectively.

The UN Rwanda is now focusing on support to a comprehensive package of integrated reproductive, maternal, neonatal and child health services that includes Family Planning, Emergency Obstetric and Newborn Care (EmONC) and integrated management of Childhood and Neonatal illnesses (IMNCI).

At the global level, the report showed that only around half of women and newborns benefit from a skilled birth attendant at the time of birth, and even fewer receive care in the critical days and weeks after childbirth.

‘Only about one-third of children with pneumonia – the biggest single killer of children – receive treatment,’ it says adding that malnutrition is the underlying cause of 3.5 million child deaths annually, and as many as 20 percent of maternal deaths.

The report indicates that one in five children are born in sub-Saharan Africa, yet some 50% of all child deaths globally occur in the region, as do half of maternal deaths worldwide.

It adds that over 10 million women and children worldwide still die each year from causes which are largely preventable and treatable.

The UNFPA Executive Director, Thoraya Obaid said, it will be hard to achieve the needed objectives if these problems are not addressed.

“This is unacceptable and we will not achieve the Millennium Development Goals unless the health and rights of women and children are made a priority. No woman should die giving life,” Obaid said.

The Auditor General Evelyn Kamagaju early this year released a report on the “effectiveness of maternal health care delivery in Rwanda” in which she blamed maternal deaths on among others, long distances to health centres, lack of ambulances and negligence.

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