NYARUGENGE - First Lady Jeannette Kagame yesterday officially launched the White Ribbon Alliance (WRA)-Rwanda Chaptera branch of an international organisation which raises awareness to improve maternal health in the country.
During the launch at Serena Hotel, the First Lady lauded the organisation’s global attempts to reduce maternal deaths and also called for concerted efforts to reverse the shocking situation in developing countries.
“We are aware of the shocking statistics of maternal and infant mortality rates, more so in developing countries. That these deaths are brought about by preventable causes is a call for action to accelerate our combined efforts to reduce, if not end this,” she underscored.
She said that despite Rwanda’s consistent attempts in combating maternal deaths, “we still have a long way to go, especially in reaching our number 5 Millennium Development Goal (MDG) of reducing 75 percent of maternal and child-deaths by 2015.”
She also urged that “safe motherhood should not be an option or an ideal but a devoted policy by all communities.”
Earlier, a play depicting the tough conditions pregnant women in the society go through moved the audience.
Caroline Rwivanga, the Secretary General of the Ministry of Health, urged all Rwandans and partners to be aware of the challenges and pressures women face, and support them in making right choices to improve their health and wellbeing.
“In Rwanda, one in six deaths of women of reproductive age [15 to 44] is due to maternal causes,” she pointed out.
According to Rwivanga, the 2005 Demographic and Health Survey showed a drop in maternal mortality from 1,071 women dying for every 100,000 live births to 750.
She also noted that there was tremendous success with the community’s response to the health facilities already in place.
She further revealed that the community health insurance scheme coverage was at 85 percent up from 44 percent in 2005 and seven percent in 2003; the use of free Family Planning services rose up from 10 percent in 2005 to 27 percent in 2008; use of free Ante Natal Care which was at 94 percent in 2005 went up to 96 percent in 2008, and assisted birth deliveries have climbed to 52 percent this year, from 39 percent in 2005.
Jeremie Zoungrana, WRA’s Country Representative to Rwanda, said that WRA aims at fighting to be an effective vehicle for advocacy in order to create political will for drastic changes that will give girls and women access to life-saving care.
White Ribbon Alliance [WRA] which was started in 1999 with Headquarters in Washington DC is present in 100 countries.
Some of WRA’s affiliate organisations include World Bank [WB], Department for International Development [DfID], United Nations Population Fund [UNFPA] and the United States Agency for International Development [USAID].
The First Lady is the patron of WRA-Rwanda Chapter.