Looking beyond 2015, the Government’s 2020 target for the infant mortality rate is 30, which is higher than the original 2015 target of 28.
According to the latest statistics, infant mortality was 50 deaths per 1000 live births in 2010, meaning that of every 1000 babies born in Rwanda, 50 die before their first birthday. However, given adequate care and a good environment most of them could survive. The infant mortality rate (IMR) was at 85 prior to the Genocide against The Tutsis, and increased dramatically during and in the aftermath of the tragic events of 1994, reaching a peak of 107 in 2000. Since that time it has fallen dramatically, to 85 by 2005, 62 in 2008, and 50 in 2010. To achieve the MDG target of 28, the rate of decrease would need to acclerate significantly.
The major cause of mortality amongst children is malaria, followed by anaemia, acute respiratory infection, and diarrhoea – all of which are preventable through comprehensive and well-coordinated interventions, such as the distribution of mosquito nets, improved access to water and sanitation, better cooking stoves, and simple health interventions such as rehydration salts (Ministry of Health et al 2009).
Vaccination coverage is improving with an increase in the proportion of children having all vaccinations from 75% in 2005 to 90% in 2010. The target for the proportion of children immunised against measles has almost been achieved and the rate is likely to continue to increase.
Recognising that improving health requires a partnership between the Government and local communities, the Ministry of Health has put in place mechanisms that directly involve and empower local communities in health promotion. Community health workers (CHWs) have proven to be a way to provide effective and efficient basic health care services at the community level, particularlly reducing the financial, infrastructural, and geographical barriers to accessing health care. The significant improvements in child and maternal health witnesses over the last five to 10 years are undoubtedly due, at least in part, to the service provided by CHWs.
The allocation of a specific budget for child health in the Ministry of Health, will support the implementation the key priorities to accelerate the progress of achieving MDG 4, through the training of medical staff and CHWs, improving medical equipment, as well as implementing the Social Protection Programme (VUP).
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