An estimated 6.6 million children under the age of five died last year around the world, although childhood death rates have halved since 1990, according to a Unicef report.
In Rwanda, childhood deaths have reduced from 193 in 2000 to 54 in 2012, another report from the Ministry of Health says.
This, according to Fidele Ngabo, the head of maternal and child care unit in the Ministry of Health, is attributed to the Rapid SMS response, which helps detect child related illness in health centres as well as increased health insurance coverage.
“The percentage of delivery by skilled health providers increased mainly due to community health workers and implementing maternal death audits. Mutuelle de Santé and rapid SMS also contributed to increase access to services,” Ngabo said.
He added that the country would continue using new technologies and innovations to reach new parents across the country in order to sustain the gains in child survival and development.
West and Central Africa are the only regions not to have at least halved the number of children under five dying over the past 22 years, according to the UN children agency.
Nearly half of all children who die are in five countries, namely Nigeria, Congo, India, Pakistan and China, it said in the report.
“We have made a lot of progress by reducing the deaths of children under five by half and are on track to achieve MDG 4 and 5 [on child mortality]. We will continue to work hard until no child dies due to diseases which are preventable and curable,” Dr Agnes Binagwaho, the Minister for Health told The New Times.
During the report’s launch yesterday, Anthony Lake, Unicef executive director said progress can and must be made.
According to the report, countries like Bangladesh, Ethiopia and Brazil showed tremendous progress, due in part to increased community health care.
Affordable and increased interventions – like treated mosquito nets, medicines, rehydration treatments and improved access to safe water – helped fight the early childhood death rate in other countries as well, it added.