There has been an overall improvement in Rwanda’s health indicators, according to the 5th Demographic and health survey released by the National Institute of Statistics Rwanda yesterday.
The survey that examined progress in various health indicators such as fertility levels, family planning, nutrition, childhood and maternal mortality, HIV/AIDS, breastfeeding practices, sexual activity, malaria, immunisation among others found improvement over the last decade.
Total women fertility dropped from 6.1 children per a woman in 2005 to 4.2 children per a woman in 2014/15.
From a sample of 13,497 women aged 15 to 49 in 12,699 households and 6,217 men aged 15 to 59 in half of the selected households, there was significant reduction in maternal and infant mortality, improvement in use of insecticide treated mosquito nets and access to contraceptives.
Speaking after the dissemination exercise, Mr Yusuf Murangwa, the director general of the National Institute of Statistics (NISR) said the findings supplement those released early last year as a necessary tool for improving health services in the country.
“There has been an improvement in most areas such as antenatal care, malnutrition, access to health services and since all people from different health domains were involved, these figures provide proper direction to boost that quality,” said Murangwa.
He warned against complacence among various sector players, maintaining that gaps that need improvement still exist.
“These figures should serve as a basis for us to address outstanding problems. Issues like malaria are still a problem. If you look at figures East and southern Province, you can find that about 4 per cent is the malaria prevalence so we need more work to plug these gaps,” he added.
Family planning, infant mortality improve
Use of modern family planning techniques stood at 48 per cent up from 45 per cent in 2010, although this was higher in educated than uneducated women.
However there was still unmet need of 19 per cent of family planning among married women.
Dr Agnes Binagwaho, the minister for Health reiterated that more efforts require going beyond the figures to address issues from the grassroots.
“We need to dig beyond these figures to find whether accessibility to family planning is really there in villages but we should find out why we still have unmeant needs. It could be because women don’t want small number of children and this should help us interpret the figures better,” said Binagwaho.
93 percent of children between 12 to 23 months received basic vaccines of BCG, pentavalent, polio and measles.
Infant mortality went down from 86 deaths in 2005 to 32 deaths per 1000 live births in 2014/15.
The use of insecticide treated nets among pregnant women aged 15 to 49 and children under the age of five who used nets the night before the survey improved although malaria prevalence remains at 2 per cent with South and East having the highest.
At least 99 per cent of women received Antenatal Care from skilled health service providers (Doctor, Nurse, midwife, medical assistant) with 56 per cent in the first trimester while 44 per cent receive more antenatal visits as recommended.
The biggest percentage (91%) of women deliver from health facility with only 8 per cent giving birth at home.
However, malnutrition still remains a big challenge with 2 per cent wasting in children under the age of five and 9 per cent being underweight.
Meanwhile, Josef Marien the UNFPA country representative commended NISR for the results as necessary data tools for evidence decision making supported by the international communities.
Marcia Musisi Nkambwe, the USAID representative observed that this data dissemination allows comparison with other countries required for balanced progress.
Although HIV/AIDS is still high in urban areas, the prevalence rate is maintained at 3 per cent.