Main Feature: Ushering a new age of better health care

Advances in scientific techniques have shown that women with HIV can give birth naturally to children, 99 percent of whom are HIV free. Accordingly, that’s why women in many parts of the world are facing mandatory testing during pregnancy. First Lady Jeanette Kagame raised the flag to usher in the health week. The focus of this year’s health week is mothers, children and infants with special emphasis on promoting a culture of preventing common preventable diseases.
Main Feature: Ushering a new age of better health care
Main Feature: Ushering a new age of better health care

Advances in scientific techniques have shown that women with HIV can give birth naturally to children, 99 percent of whom are HIV free. Accordingly, that’s why women in many parts of the world are facing mandatory testing during pregnancy.

First Lady Jeanette Kagame raised the flag to usher in the health week. The focus of this year’s health week is mothers, children and infants with special emphasis on promoting a culture of preventing common preventable diseases.

Mrs. Jeanette Kagame said, “We all have a responsibility to sensitive people in the community regarding healthcare so that we can prevent maternal and child mortality. Women leaders should educate other women in the community about the health care facilities available for them.”

As she joined many in recognition of women in family health and nutrition, Mrs. Kagame remarked that the statistics indicate maternal mortality rates of 750 deaths per 10,000 live births and 62 child mortality per 1000 live births.

The first lady set a clear example to the Rwandan women as she gave vitamin B to children at the attended the launch. The minister of health also joined in to immunize children.

Alicia D. Greenidge Director General of International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers and Associations extolled women leadership in health care in the country.

She said, “Women make half of the population and they have given birth to the rest of the population. Hence there is a need for them to take up the vital role in family health care. They should be the care givers and leaders. It’s a challenge but the achievements that the Rwandan women have achieved are very encouraging.”

The Minister of Health, Dr. Richard Sizibera echoed the same message saying, “Our aim is to recognise women in heir own right and in improving health care. Women are primary care givers and they are critical in health care delivery. The government recognises this and would like to put women in the forefront of health care.”

Sizebera noted that the role of government in health care is crucial especially in partnerships with the private sector in improving access and faster delivery.

For women like Dorotia Mukeshimana, the week is a light in a dark tunnel they have learned to call life. She is a single working mother struggling for a better life for herself and her three year old daughter Josiane. She has a counter at Muhima Market where she sells some tomatoes and other vegetables on retail price.

“Life is not easy because I have to struggle for entirely everything. When I get some money I do not use it to buy food. I instead go shopping for some more of the vegetables so that I can get some profit,” Mukeshimana said in a dry tone.

Mukeshimana’s husband Jean Claude Nsabimana succumbed to HIV/AIDS seven months ago and left her a 2 month old pregnancy for which she is expecting to give birth any time soon. She had hoped that her first child (Josiane) would be healthy but she dint have much luck.

Josiane was born with AIDS and as if it was not bad enough she also battled with malaria as an infant which left her mentally retarded and now hope for the future is also in balance.

Mukeshimana is among the many women who continue to bear the burden of disease and lack on behalf of their families and relatives. She explains that all she wishes is better healthcare for her child so that she can grow to have a better life.

Disease, she says, colours her child’s life but the government promises better care and she is hopeful her daughter will grow to be a mother one day. She holds her child as she stares away; lost in dreams and hopes she has come to count as a possibility.

The diseases which have recently contributed to the majority of child deaths in the country according to the Ministry of Health are pneumonia, diarrhoea and malaria.

Children continue to be born with HIV because their mothers do not access prenatal health care which could help in preventing the scourge’s inheritance.

Though a significant number of women have chosen not to have children, some among the three percent of Rwandans living with HIV such as Mukeshimana, this has not been the case.

Sometimes even efforts to have safe sex to avoid transmission are always let down by their partners who for the most part should have a greater positive influence.

In 2007, the Government of Rwanda made Family Planning a national priority recognising its relation to economic growth.

The government’s National Family Planning Program is supported by The United States Agency for International Development (USAID).The programme seeks to increase the demand, access, availability, quality and use of contraception.

And as Doctor Fidel Ngabo, the Director in Charge Of Maternal And Child Health in the Health Ministry explained, 27 percent of all Rwandan women have already started using modern contraceptives. He notes that the rest seem to be oblivious of its existence.

Dr. Ngabo observes that pregnancies continue to expose these women to health risks which may result in miscarriages, still births or death while giving birth.

The ministry hopes to encourage men to participate in family planning as a way of increasing adherence.

Dr.Ngabo remarks that the Ministry of Health is committed to providing contraceptives to health centres for easy access to all Rwandans.

“The target is to have 70 percent by 2012 because it helps them avoid unwanted pregnancies and reduce the transmission of AIDS from the mother to the child,” Dr.Ngabo said. According to Dr.Ngabo, this is the principle that the ministry of Health has structured its strategy to ensure nutrition.

“Women need to be educated on the need for a balanced diet for their families and this will lead to the overall well being of their families,” he explained.

Dr. Ngabo points out that the ministry aims at sensitizing the women on taking their children for immunization because most of the diseases that continue to raise the childmortality rates are immunizable hence avoidable.

Advances in scientific techniques have shown that women with HIV can give birth naturally to children, 99 percent of whom are HIV free. Accordingly, that’s why women in many parts of the world are facing mandatory testing during pregnancy.

Dr. Edgar Kalimba says, “Pregnant mothers are tested for HIV Aids and if they are found to be infected, we educate them on how to live positively and we put them on Anti-Retro-Virals. We encourage them to give birth at the hospital so that the child can be safely delivered and in case the mother is HIV positive then the doctor is able to ensure the baby doesn’t get infected.”

The First Lady started the White Ribbon Initiative to promote safe motherhood and to reduce childbirth deaths. These testing policies are designed to save the unborn child and this should stay at the back of our minds as we celebrate the National Health week.

Rwanda aims to attain its fifth Millennium Development Goal of reducing maternal and infant mortality rates by 75 percent by 2015. It’s with these kinds of initiatives that such a goal will be realised. It’s also up to all Rwandans not to just sit back and wait for another Health Week in order to be active. It’s for their own good, for our own good to do it now.

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