GICUMBI - The Ministry of Health (MoH) yesterday launched a one-week health campaign aimed at improving the health of mothers and children and intends to distribute several types of vaccines to 5.8 million children across the country.
This was announced by the Minister of Health, Dr. Richard Sezibera, at the launch of the Mothers and Children Health Week in Gicumbi District, Northern Province.
The launch which was kick-started by administering vaccines to children was also attended by several health stakeholders including the entire board of GAVI Alliance.
GAVI contributes over 60 percent of the immunization budget in Rwanda.
The children who will be immunized are aged between one month and 16 years. The exercise will be carried out in 2100 sites across the country.
“The issue of mother and child deaths is a serious concern that needs to be tackled seriously. There is no reason as to why a mother should die while giving life,” said Sezibera.
“We have registered progress in many developmental areas; we should make sure that no child dies of any of the killer diseases”.
The minister noted that the number of women who die while giving birth has reduced tremendously adding that before 2008, the country would register over 2,700 cases annually, but last year, it had reduced to 240 cases.
He added currently, 66 percent of mothers deliver from health centres and hospitals and noted that the figure is still low compared to the government target of having all mothers deliver from health facilities.
The GAVI Alliance Board Chairperson, Mary Robinson, praised Rwanda’s progress in healthcare and pointed out that access to health care is human right.
Robinson is also a former Prime Minister of Ireland.
She pointed out one example of why Rwanda is a global success story saying that ever since pneumococcal conjugate vaccine was introduced in Rwanda last year, it has rolled out to over 75 percent of those who need them.
Several partners of the Health Ministry equally praised Rwanda’s progress in health and pledged more support to the nation.
Interventions during the Mother and Child week include immunization of infants from 0 to 11 months against Diphtheria, Tetanus, whooping-cough, Hepatitis B Virus (HBV), Hemophilus Influenza serotype B, Poliomyelitis and Measles.
Also, infants aged between 6 to 59 months will receive Vitamin A supplement while those aged between 12 months and 59 moths will get Mebendazol to protect them from intestinal parasites.
Pregnant women attending antenatal checkups will get long lasting treated mosquito nets, complete anti tetanus immunization, iron/folic acid while breastfeeding mothers will get Vitamin A supplement and family planning services will be offered at all sites.