IRC Launches Extended Child Health Program in Rwanda
The program, an extension of IRC's successful child survival program in Rwanda, is expected to double the number of children treated each month for malaria, diarrhea and pneumonia from 20,000 to 40,000 a month. The program will also focus on disease prevention, such as distribution of insecticide-treated bed nets.
Rwanda has made significant gains in children's health since the 1994 genocide that killed some 800,000 people. But much remains to be done, says Emmanuel d'Harcourt, IRC senior technical advisor for child survival.
Child mortality was reduced by 25 percent from 2000 to 2005, thanks in part to the IRC child survival program, which started in 1999, d'Harcourt says. "But even so," he says, "one in seven Rwandese children do not live past their fifth birthday. For this reason, we are extending our program." Preliminary survey results indicate that children living in areas served by the IRC who are ill with diarrhea or malaria have been correctly treated. "This is an impressive result in a country which barely had any health services 10 years ago," d'Harcourt points out.
However, initial analysis also shows that none of the children with respiratory illness received treatment. "The new project will add pneumonia treatment to the package," d'Harcourt says. "Training has already begun, with the first treatments expected to begin in a month."
The IRC child survival program targets more than half a million people in Kibungo Province, with particular emphasis on 120,000 children under age five and 130,000 women of childbearing age. The childhood health survey is being carried out in partnership with Concern Worldwide and World Relief.