Rwanda has dramatically improved its child health care in the last ten years, according to a new report by the World Health Organisation (WHO).
The biennial country office report, released last week, highlighted lower infant mortality rates and high immunisation coverage as two areas of improvement.
“Over the past decade, Rwanda has recorded unprecedented successes,” said the report.
Between 2005 and 2010 the infant mortality rate in the country has dropped from 86 deaths per 1000 live births to 50 deaths per 1000 live births.
On top of that, the under five mortality rate was reduced from 152 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2005 to 76 deaths per 1000 live births in 2010.
Malnutrition has also declined from 3.9 per cent in 2005 to 2.8 per cent in 2010.
Nathan Mugume, head of communication at the Rwanda Biomedical Center, said the reason Rwanda has been so successful in reducing the child mortality rates is because of better education and access to services.
“Reduction in maternal and child mortality rates is attributed to increased sensitisation and education through the community health workers and the mass media, more so by bridging the geographical gap through increasing the number of health centres and health posts,” he said.
Mugume also said Rwanda’s immunisation rate for children under five has increased to 97 per cent, which is one of the biggest reasons for the drop in the child mortality rate.
The report said universal access to mosquito nets, integrated community case management and the introduction of new vaccines in the cocountry have all contributed to greater care.
“Vaccination has played a major role in the fight against childhood diseases,” said the report. “Rwanda became the first country in the WHO African region to introduce combined measles/rubella immunisation countrywide.”
Rwanda also introduced the rotavirus vaccine in 2012 to prevent children from dying of diarrhea, the third highest cause of infant mortality in the country.
The WHO is hopeful this will help Rwanda further reduce the infant mortality rate and reach the 2018 target of 42 deaths per 1000 live births.
The report also noted that Rwanda is on track to achieving universal health coverage, with 91 per cent of the population covered under community based health insurance in 2010, an increase from 71 per cent in 2005.