Experts meet to discuss infant mortality

The second International Conference on Maternal and Child Health got underway yesterday in Kigali with focus on evaluating the causes of child deaths and how to prevent them. According to the Ministry of Health (MoH), although the country has made significant strides in reducing child mortality over the last decade, for every 1000 live births, 112 children will die before they celebrate their fifth birthday.

The second International Conference on Maternal and Child Health got underway yesterday in Kigali with focus on evaluating the causes of child deaths and how to prevent them.

According to the Ministry of Health (MoH), although the country has made significant strides in reducing child mortality over the last decade, for every 1000 live births, 112 children will die before they celebrate their fifth birthday.

“Rwanda has embraced the challenges that MDGs pose, and has made substantial progress towards achieving them. However, work remains to be done in many areas particularly in maternal and child health which are the MDGs four and five,” reads a statement from MoH.

Speaking at the opening of the conference, the Coordinator of Maternal and Child Survival in MoH, Dr. Fidele Ngabo, said that diarrhoea, malaria, malnutrition and pneumonia are among the top child killer diseases in Rwanda.

He added that maternal mortality remains a major challenge in Rwanda with an estimated 750 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births.

Ngabo however, pointed out that the government has introduced rapid response through the Short Message Service (SMS) to improve maternal, newborn and child health.

Under this arrangement, mobile phones are provided to health workers at the cell level to enable them call for quick medical intervention where needed.

Speaking to The New Times, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health, Dr. Agnes Binagwaho, said that Rwanda is on track to achieve MDGs by 2015 due to the various programmes that have been put in place to tackle maternal deaths.

“We have maternal audits at community level and health facilities, when a mother dies, it is reported at the central level where we analyse the cause of the death in the MDGs steering committee,” said Binagwaho, adding that the deaths act as lessons since the analysis is sent back to the health facilities where they are told the cause of the death and how to prevent it.

She also cited the increase in the number of ambulances - 3 per district - as another way of reducing the deaths.

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