Over 350 national and international health experts have convened in Kigali to draw ways on how to improve child health in a bid to raise stronger generations for the future.
Speaking at the opening ceremony of the high level summit, on March 27, 2012, the Minister of Health, Dr. Agnes Binagwaho highlighted the progress the country has shown so far, citing the 50 percent reduction of the child mortality rates, improved hygiene and general improvement in managing infectious diseases.
She however emphasised that a lot of focus should be put on prevention, improvement of the capacity to diagnose and control child mortality as well as curbing non communicable diseases completely.
“This is the first time we are all coming together to address this important matter. Let us take the main steps that will save neonates’ lives by improving neonatal care and bringing treatment for chronic non communicable diseases like cancer to the whole population,” Dr. Binagwaho said.
The Minister also cited that capacity building in neonatology will roll out in district hospitals next year adding that the country has what it takes to protect the future generations from preventable deaths.
Fred Were, the President of the Eastern Africa Pediatric Association commended Rwanda’s progress in curbing child mortality adding that more efforts must be geared towards changing the current malnutrition situation in a bid to have better results in the field of nutrition.
“We must keep it in mind that improved child health is key to attaining all the other Millennium Development Goals. Healthy children perform well in school and result into a good educated generation which in turn promotes another healthy generation. This cycle is a sure lead to development,” he said.
Dr. Neo Tapela, an advisor to the Director of Clinical Services in the Ministry of Health said that Rwanda’s cancer registry indeed has evidence that there are about 3390 cancer cases out of which 320 were pediatric cancers which involve, lymphomas, Nephroblastoma, Leukemia, Osteosarcoma and Meninge-Brain among others.
Tapela said that so far efforts are in place to provide quality cancer care by offering the right diagnosis and treatment (chemotherapy).
Under the theme, “Acting today for a healthy tomorrow,” participants will continue to discuss ways of tackling prevalent childhood conditions so as to reach the next frontier by expanding access to care for non communicable diseases.