On March 29, UNICEF donated 111 vaccine storage refrigerators to Minister of Health (MoH) to compliment the ministry’s efforts ahead of the introduction of the rotavirus vaccine.
“We are very proud that through this donation of vaccine storage equipment, Rwanda will be able to introduce the rotavirus vaccine to prevent deaths from diarrheal diseases,” said Noala Skinner, UNICEF’s Representative to Rwanda. Diarrhea still remains a major contributor to child mortality in Rwanda, accounting for 19% of all deaths for children under five.
With the launch of the rotavirus vaccine this month, this rate is expected to come down drastically, mirroring the decline in respiratory infections, following the introduction of the pneumococcal vaccine three years ago. “In adding rotavirus to its list of vaccinations, Rwanda becomes one of Africa’s few countries to provide ten key antigens to save children’s lives,” emphasised Ms. Skinner. “We are extremely grateful to USAID for their generous donation that made this delivery of key cold-chain equipment possible,\” she added. Rwanda has made significant progress in realizing the rights of children and women. Over 95% of girls and boys go to school.
Child mortality has dropped significantly from 152 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2005 to 76 in 2010 and the number of children and their families living in poverty has decreased from 56% on 2005 to 44% in 2010.
Challenges still remain, particularly in relation to ensuring quality health, education and protection to the most vulnerable and disadvantaged populations – areas where UNICEF will continue to focus its efforts in the coming years.