A preliminary report of the 2010 Rwanda Demographic and Health Survey (RDHS) indicates that the percentage of babies delivered in conventional health facilities has substantially increased.
Figures show a significant increase from 52 percent in 2007-2008 to 69 percent in 2010 when the RDHS data was collected.
The survey indicates that 82 percent of births among women in urban areas delivered in modern health facilities compared to 67 percent of births among rural women.
The Chairperson of the Rwanda Midwives Association, Josephine Murekezi, said that a lot had been done to encourage women to deliver in health centres.
She said that community health workers at the grassroots level encouraged many women to deliver at the facilities.
“There are community health workers all over the country. They follow up on pregnant women, encourage them to go for antenatal care and persuade them to deliver from hospitals,” Murekezi said.
She added that they also carry out a lot of sensitisation programs teaching women the need for antenatal care and having their births supervised by health professionals.
Murekezi further attributed the success to an increase in the number of professional health workers including doctors, nurses and midwives.
She said that the increase in the number of professional health workers means that more women can be attended to, thus improving maternal health.
However, the implication is that if 69 percent women currently deliver from health facilities, the other percentage delivers with help from traditional birth attendants or by themselves.
Murekezi said that a sizable number of women still use the services of traditional midwives because of fear and ignorance.
“Some women fear to expose themselves to people they aren’t used to and are more comfortable with the traditional midwives who they know perfectly well,” she said.
She added that other women still find it costly to deliver from health facilities, despite incentives like Mutuelle de Sante, which has led to a significant decrease in healthcare charges.
Murekezi, however, noted that presently, incentives are provided to traditional birth attendants to encourage professional child birth.
“When a traditional birth attendant brings a woman to give birth from a health facility, we give them some incentives. This encourages them to leave this role to the professionals,” said Murekezi.
She stated that plans are underway to increase the number of midwives and strengthen their capacity by enrolling them in nursing schools.