A Rwanda Where No Baby Dies During Birth

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In Matimba, a village town of Nyagatare district, a three hours’ drive to Rwanda’s Capital Kigali, Jane Kamagaju’s husband is hanging out with family and friends when labour pains start making her uncomfortable.

It is about 6pm in the middle of the night, Kamagaju panics. Her husband Mushaija grabs his Techno phone and calls a community health worker for help, in 10 just 10 minutes she had arrived- then she calls an ambulance.

Kamagaju is in labour pains –she needs an urgent rush to the hospital, advises the community health worker. As the wait for an ambulance lingers on, the social worker makes her basic diagnosis.

In Nyagatare it’s now common knowledge that every pregnancy may be subjected to complications, healthy officials advises mothers to deliver their babies in a health facility so that they access emergency services if needed during labor, delivery and post-delivery.

According to the to the health management information systems (HMIS), 2016 births attended by skilled health staff in Rwanda was reported at 94.5 percent.

HMIS 2016 report also indicates that 338,784 births were recorded. Since 2000, more women in Rwanda have begun to receive maternity care with a skilled attendant and in a facility. More women have also begun to use modern family planning methods, particularly in rural settings where most poor and vulnerable women live.

The primary factors in these improvements have been increasing the health workforce and their skills, performance-based financing, community–based health insurance and good governance.

Over 90% of CHWs reported manageability, job satisfaction, and motivation to perform their jobs. Clients were highly satisfied with CHW services and most stated preference for future services from CHWs. Accordingly, the initiative was scaled up in all 30 districts in the country.

Jozef Maeriën, the UNFPA country representative recently noted “There has been an improvement in most areas such as antenatal care from skilled health personnel, reduction in maternal mortality, decrease in infant mortality, access to health services and we are grateful to be part of this success”

Maeriën also noted that despite the positive progress, gaps that need improvement still exist including unmet need for family planning, use of modern contraceptives, teenage pregnancy etc.

Rwanda’s Mutuelle national health insurance scheme – where members pay approximately US$2 per year and 10 percent of their treatment costs – has also greatly increased access to medical care for mothers and children.

Each year in Africa, an estimated quarter of a million women die of problems related to pregnancy, while nearly half die around the time of childbirth and during the first week after birth, mainly of causes directly related to childbirth.

Bleeding, obstructed labour, eclampsia, and infections make up the largest causes of mothers’ deaths, accounting for two thirds of maternal deaths in sub-Saharan Africa.

World Bank reports indicate that in the last two and a half decades, Rwandans’ life expectancy has tripled from 28 in 1994, to 46 in 2000, to 66 by end 2015.

Recent years saw a significant increase in the number of health facilities in Rwanda. as of today, the country has 406 health posts, 499 health centres, 36 district hospitals, and seven referral hospitals.






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