The United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) and World Health Organization (WHO) has hailed Rwanda’s tremendous steps in the reduction of the mortality rate for children.
The joint statement from the UN agencies was released yesterday following the annual report by the UN Inter-agency Group on Child Mortality Estimation (UN-IGME) released Thursday indicating that Rwanda had achieved the highest decline in under five mortality in East and Southern Africa.
In just two decades, the country has reduced by two thirds the number of children under the age of five who die annually from preventable causes. Both agencies congratulated the government on the incredible success.
“Rwanda has put its will, knowledge, tools and technology into saving children’s lives, including expanding access to quality services (and health insurance), increasing immunization coverage, introducing new vaccines to fight killer diseases and ensuring that every village is served by four community health workers,” reads part of the statement.
“This is an incredible achievement and we warmly congratulate the President, the Ministry of Health and all partners for making a child survival a tangible reality for families across Rwanda.”
In the statement, both UNICEF and WHO went on to stress the importance of accelerating the reduction in under-five mortality by continuing to expand preventive and curative interventions that target the main causes of post-neonatal deaths and reach the most vulnerable children.
Most child deaths occur during the first crucial months of life and a child’s chances of survival improve when both mother and child are healthy and well-nourished.
The UNICEF report, titled “Committing to Child Survival: A Promise Renewed,” says child mortality rates in the Rwanda were slashed from 156 deaths per 1000 children to 54 deaths per 1000 children born annually, reflecting a two-thirds reduction.
According to the report, nine low-income countries, including Rwanda, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Ethiopia, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Nepal and Niger, have lowered their under-five mortality rate by 60 per cent or more over the last two decades.