The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has launched a new Maternal and Child Survival Programme in the country.
The programme ,worth $43 million (Rwf 32 billion), replaces the Rwanda Family Health Project that started in 2012. The new project will run until 2018.
Speaking during the event in Kigali, yesterday, US ambassador to Rwanda, Erica Barks Ruggles, said the new project would be a continuation to the achievements of the previous one that cost $57 million (Rwf 49 billion).
“As we celebrate the completion of the three-year family health planning programme that we implemented together with our partners, we celebrate success for reduction of maternal deaths during pregnancy by half and child death by 30 per cent over the course of the last five years. We are very pleased that the new programme will further reduce these deaths,” Ruggles said.
She noted that the new project will build on the success of the first with more focus towards ensuring sustainability.
“In the first course, there was a lot of training for the staff and securing the necessary equipment, but we shall focus more on capacity building to ensure that every clinic in the country has midwives as per the ministry’s plan,” she added.
Interventions to improve maternal health will involve outreach programmes to the grassroots to train both mothers and midwives about healthcare principles such as routine antenatal care.
Statistics show that 40 per cent of children who die before 42 days of life can be prevented.
Dr Agnes Binagwaho, the Minister for Health, called on Rwandans to work together to achieve more results.
“If we work at the grassroots level, working with the community leaders, parents we can improve maternal health not only of the health care professionsals but communities to be the agents of change,” she added.
Binagwaho also commended the support provided by global and local partners in promoting maternal health in Rwanda.
“We have achieved the MDGs because of our partnership with the people. We have done great but the spirit, collaboration and flexibility made everything possible. Rwanda is one of the places that changes rapidly which has required a lot of flexibility for adaptations,” she said.
The interventions for improving maternal health also benefitted health workers.
Betilde Mukamusoni, a nurse at Kibagabaga Hospital, is one of those benefiting from the capacity building programme to help save lives of mothers.
“I started in Gatsibo District and have helped over 2,000 mothers deliver safely. Currently, I am working with the neonatology department at Kibagabaga, but the experience of the Kangaroo mother care and equipment came from the programme,” Mukamusoni said.
Asia Ainkamiye, a mother of four, had complications with her last delivery, but got help, thanks to these programmes.
“My fourth birth was caesarian; My baby was underweight at 1.7kgs and I was afraid. Luckily, I was facilitated by the healthcare givers and I left hospital when my baby made 2.5kg,” Ainkamiye said.