KIGALI, Rwanda, July 15, 2014 /PRNewswire/ – In Nyamata, a rural town of Bugesera district, a 30 minutes’ drive south of Rwanda’s Capital - Kigali, Jeanne Musabende’s husband is hanging out with neighbors when labour pains start grinding her. She needs maternity care immediately. And thanks to a range of programs Rwanda has put in place over past 14 years, Musabende does not have to worry about her delivery.
The World Health Organization ranks Rwanda among 11 countries in the world vigorously fighting maternal mortality. Yet, in 2000, the country recorded more than 1500 out of 100,000 mothers dying while or after giving birth.
“Rwanda had worst experiences with regard to maternal mortality,” says Dr. Stephen Rulisa, an obstetrician-gynecologist and Head of Clinical Research Department at Kigali University Teaching Hospital. “There were barely any healthy facilities, not even qualified medics, about five doctors and a handful of nurses”, she added.
Today, fifteen years later, the number has gone down to 340, a 76% decline; one mark past the 75% target of the UN Millennium Development Goals’ target for 2015. But Rwandasays it plans to record below 300 deaths by 2015.
Globally, Rwanda is at position 34, behind Switzerland at 35. Singapore, Greece, Estoniarank first with less than 3 deaths. While Chad and Somali recoded more than 1000 deaths.
Norwegian Prime Minister of Norway, Erna Solberg, whose country’s rate is 7, co-chairs the MDG’s advocacy group with Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame. She visited Rwandaearly this month to discuss the progress countries are making to meet MDGs targets.
Solberg was all praises for Rwanda considering that the genocide against Tutsis in 1994 crippled the country’s social and economic fabric.
In 2003 the government established a Community-Based Health Insurance system known as Mutuelles de Sante, covering the costs for the indigent population and vulnerable groups. More than 92 percent of the population has health insurance.
The health scheme came at a time when many district had dilapidated public health infrastructure with some districts having no hospital at all.
And by 2013, public hospitals had about 600 physicians, 451 midwives and 160 medical specialists.
Back at Nyamata hospital, new mother Musabende is all smiles. “I was afraid of losing my baby,” she says, while codling her baby boy.