Rwanda: The Integrated Mother and Child Health Week During COVID-19 Pandemic in Rwanda

Rwanda concluded on 19th June its biannual Integrated Mother and Child Health Week organized from 15th to 19th June 2020. This event was first postponed in March 2020, due to the outbreak of COVID-19 in Rwanda. The Mother and Child week is organized twice a year and serves as an opportunity to scale up health services provision, particularly to the hard-to-reach and the most vulnerable populations. The Ministry of Health in collaboration with the Ministry of Local Government, Ministry of Gender and Family Promotion, Imbuto Foundation, WHO Country Office and other Partners organized a successful Mother and Child Health Week while continuing fighting against COVID-19 which is still present in country.

The Minister of Health on national Radio and TV reminded the communities that the Mother and Child Health Weeks have improved lives of mothers and children by ensuring coverage of the basic health services for the communities. He urged communities for improvement on hand washing in order to prevent the main preventable diseases including COVID-19, especially among children. He also recalled communities to prevent malaria, fight against early pregnancy and increase family planning for a healthy development of the country. He recalled them that this Mother and Child Health Week is organized in a very critical time when COVID-19 is still active in country. He urged citizens to strictly observe the strong prevention measures put in place to stop the spread of the pandemic, washing hands, physical distancing and wearing masks in public places while getting long lifesaving interventions.

The Mother and Child Health Week was implemented in villages with support of Community Health Workers and health providers from Health Centers. They were supported by the Local Government authorities in mobilization of communities. The Central level supported coordination and supervision of the campaign. Integrated Mother and Child Health Week is one of the strategies used to increase awareness regarding the use of preventive and curative services but also a great opportunity to provide key preventive services: deworming, vitamin A supplementation, screening of cases with malnutrition, HPV vaccination, family planning services and messages for prevention of malaria, early pregnancy, malnutrition, hygiene and for adherence to vaccination.

The Mother and Child Week was an opportunity to assess the continuity of RMNCAH activities during COVID-19. The supervisors of the campaign in Districts collected also information from Hospitals, Health Centers and Community level on the continuity.

In order to support the campaign, Partners contributed technically and financially, and WHO provided deworming tablets which targeted around 5 million of children aged from 1 to 15 years, financial support for communication and awareness activities in line with the campaign and supervision of the Mother and Child Health Week in Districts.

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