A UN report says Rwanda has already achieved Millennium Development Goal (MDG) number 4 of reducing the deaths of children under five years by two-thirds below 1990 levels by 2015.
Estimates developed by the UN Inter-agency Group for Child Mortality Estimation show that only 54 Rwandan children die out of every 1000 new borns. The report was released on Tuesday by the UN children agency UNICEF.
In 1990, Rwanda’s child mortality rate was 174 deaths per thousand live births. Massive government investment saw figures come down to 112 by 2008.
The latest UNICEF report puts Rwanda among 10 countries with countries with greatest decline in under-five mortality rate.
The major factors behind Rwanda’s targets is said to be the reductions in the spread of malaria and pneumonia. A few years back, Pneumonia had been one of the biggest threats to survival of children in Rwanda. It was killing one in five children in Rwanda and is responsible for 23% of all child deaths.
Various mass vaccination campaigns against pneumonia have seen those figures drop. Rwanda’s First Lady Jeannette Kagame has been the biggest advocate for a disease free livelihood for Rwandan newborns. Her efforts have seen thousands of children immunized against some of the biggest killer diseases.
As for malaria, before a child is born in Rwanda, the mother will have slept in the mosquito net during pregnancy. The same child will be born with the same service and grow up with it. All this is thanks to a strict program at health centres across the country requiring mothers to seek a free net when pregnant and have another for the new born.
Rwanda has implemented an insurance plan that covers 90% of treatment costs for families. This program greatly relieves the financial burden of illness, as families only have to pay 10% of their medical bills.
The government has also given community workers basic training on how to diagnose and administer basic antibiotic treatment, after which patients can be safely transferred to better-equipped and staffed hospitals or larger community.