Rwanda tops region in curbing maternal, child death rates

KIGALI - The Minister of Health, Dr. Richard Sezibera, yesterday revealed that Rwanda’s impressive strides in curbing maternal and child deaths have put the country in the lead within the region.
WHO Country Representative Dr Abdoulie D. Jack (L) listens to Health Minister Dr Richard Sezibera as UNFPA Country Representative Therese Zeba looks on. This was during the Maternal and Child death prevention meeting yesterday. (Photo/ J Mbanda).
WHO Country Representative Dr Abdoulie D. Jack (L) listens to Health Minister Dr Richard Sezibera as UNFPA Country Representative Therese Zeba looks on. This was during the Maternal and Child death prevention meeting yesterday. (Photo/ J Mbanda).

KIGALI - The Minister of Health, Dr. Richard Sezibera, yesterday revealed that Rwanda’s impressive strides in curbing maternal and child deaths have put the country in the lead within the region.

This was during the opening of a three-day conference dubbed “preventing maternal and child deaths: Towards the Millennium Development Goals” that was opened in Kigali.

While assessing the vital role that women and children play in the country’s development, the conference intends to elevate the profile of maternal and child health to a more prominent position in the development and health strategies.

According to the minister, the maternal mortality rate has reduced by 30 percent since 2005 and government aims at reducing it further to 50 percent and childhood deaths by two-thirds by 2015.

“Regionally we are doing much better than our neighbours in relation to attaining this goal and in sub-Saharan Africa we come second to South Africa.”

“Although the figures may be better this year, a lot still needs to be done because annual statistics show that about 2,767 women still die during pregnancy or immediately after and 13,000 children die before their first birthday,” Sezibera said.

Dr. Ayoade Olatunbosun Alakija, an International Development Programme adviser from the George Washington University also commended Rwanda’s efforts towards this achievement emphasising that African nations must emulate the country’s strong leadership and commitment in realising health strategies.

Officials identified localising Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) as one of the main strategies that will accelerate achievement of MDGs 4 and 5 which aim at reducing childhood and maternal deaths respectively.

Sezibera also identified poverty as the main cause of these deaths pointing out the provision of equipment to health centres and training of health workers as the other means that have been adapted by the ministry to meet this goal.

In this regard, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health, Agnes Binangwaho, said that these mortality rates will be audited at the local levels and the community will participate in finding solutions to the problem.

The conference brought together various health practitioners and according a statement from the Ministry of Health, recommendations will act as a strong foundation on which to build and strengthen capacity within the health community.

The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) are eight goals to be achieved by 2015 that respond to the world’s main development challenges.

The MDGs are drawn from the actions and targets contained in the Millennium Declaration that was adopted by 189 nations-and signed by 147 heads of state and governments during the UN Millennium Summit in September 2000.

In 2001, in response to the world leaders’ request, UN Secretary General presented the Road Map Towards the Implementation of the United Nations Millennium Declaration, an integrated and comprehensive overview of the situation, outlining potential strategies for action designed to meet the goals and commitments of the Millennium Declaration.

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