Rwanda: Gov't, UNFPA Discuss Maternal Mortality

The New Times (Kigali)

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Joseph Mudingu

The government of Rwanda together with the United Nations Population Fund, (UNFPA) last week called for intensive measures against maternal mortality rate in Rwanda.

This was during the launch of the White Ribbon Alliance for Safe Motherhood in Rwanda that took place at Hotel Novotel, Kigali.

During the ceremony, the UNFPA Representative in Rwanda, Thérèse Zeba, warned that unless urgent and appropriate action is taken to step up Family Planning and skilled birth attendants, many more women will continue dying while giving birth in Rwanda.

Speaking at an advocacy meeting, Zeba said that mothers should be protected from death while giving birth.

"To die giving life is the worst violation of human rights and it is the worst form of discrimination against women because we can prevent such deaths," she underscored.

"Another 1,440 women will die today unless we act", she said, adding: "We have to act, and act decisively."

She lauded the strong presence of government officials, UN agencies and other development partners at the ceremony saying it is proof that "by putting our efforts together the people of this country can feel the effect of our assistance in their daily lives."

Welcoming this initiative, Dr. Jean-Damascene Ntawukuriryayo, who was still Minister of Health before joining the new Parliament, said that there has been an improvement in this area but more needs to be done.

"In recent years, we have made huge progress in reducing maternal mortality. However, more needs to be done. We are calling upon everyone institutions to join forces towards achieving even more progress in reducing maternal deaths," he said.

The White Ribbon Alliance is an international coalition of safe motherhood organisations and individuals, active from grassroots to government level in saving the lives of pregnant women and newborn babies around the world. It is dedicated to the memory of all women who have died in pregnancy and childbirth.

Today's meeting marked the first step toward the formal launch of the activities of the White Ribbon Alliance in Rwanda. The alliance's branch in Rwanda will be launched on 13 October 2008.

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The movement is being pioneered by the Ministry of Health, in collaboration with UNFPA and the UK's Department for International Development (DFID).

Jean-Louis Kayitenkore
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