Rwanda: 9% of Births Still Happen at Home

(file photo).
16 October 2019

On October 14, a four-day campaign for National Integrated Maternal and Child Health was launched by the Ministry of Health in Karongi District but will be rolled out in every district.

The campaign aims at fighting malnutrition in children, family planning, malaria and human intestinal parasites, among others.

The 2014-2015 Demographic Health Survey (DHS) report indicates 9% of births still take place at home.

"Some mothers lack information on where to go for antenatal care or giving birth. Others don't pay their health insurance on time, so they end up fearing the charges from the health centers," explained Dr Felix Sayinzoga, Division Manager of the Maternal and Child Health Division in RBC.

"Others give birth from their homes because of their mindset. They think if one birth at home was successful, it will be the same with another".

16% of births in Rwamagana district still happen from homes. The district's Vice Mayor in charge of Social Development, Jeanne Umutoni, shares the same view.

"It is mostly due to the mindset. Sometimes people think they have no problem, so they don't go to the health centres to give birth".

She added that the mothers do it in hiding because they know it is not allowed. Some women, when asked why they give birth from their homes say that nothing wrong happened to them anyway.

Umutoni explained they are solving the problem by making it compulsory for mothers to go for antenatal care, paying for health insurance using community health workers. They also have four ambulances in their district to help with emergencies.

According to Dr Sayinzoga, every village has four health workers. One is precisely in charge of following up on pregnant mothers, advising them, and escorting them to the maternity when they are in labour. In case of emergencies, the counsellor sends 'rapid messages' calling for help to those in charge.

Other policies have been implemented; building and renovating maternity houses on all health centres and hospitals, provision of sufficient ambulances, antenatal care four times throughout the pregnancy, public lectures on pregnancy and paying for health insurance among others.

Sayinzoga said that as soon as someone learns they are pregnant; they should seek antenatal care from the health centre. "They should visit the doctor four times, pay for health insurance on time, prepare for everything they will need, like money for transport, and always give birth at the maternity".

He says the goal is to have 100% of women give birth from the hospital as it will minimize maternal mortality. As per 210 children out of 10,000 die during birth in Rwanda.

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