Ambassador Vrooman Launches USAID “Ingobyi” Activity Supporting Maternal and Child Health

I am delighted to be here today to celebrate the incredible accomplishments of the USAID-funded Maternal and Child Survival Program, and the launch of our new Ingobyi activity.

We’ve already heard from both of these important projects about their achievements and goals toward making sure that babies and mothers across Rwanda are treated with the highest degree of care.  So please allow me to take this moment to take a step back, and emphasize why the U.S. Government is so invested in maternal and child health in Rwanda.

The Millennium Development Goals, with targets set to be met by 2015, set as the goal of reducing mother and child mortality.  Since enacting this goal, our collective efforts across the globe have saved the lives of 48 million children under five.

Rwanda, in particular, has been at the forefront of this fight.  And I am proud today to recognize Rwanda once more as one of only a handful of countries in Sub-Saharan Africa to meet, and exceed, this Millennium Development Goal for maternal and child survival.  This has been a truly remarkable achievement, congratulations. Now the goal is ending all preventable child and maternal deaths by 2035.

For the last three years, our Maternal and Child Survival Program has been the U.S. Government’s flagship activity to help Rwanda accomplish this bold new goal.  Our program was designed in line with Rwanda’s Vision 2020, by focusing on three guiding principles: evidence-based decision-making, planning for sustainability, and capacity building.

And I am proud to stand here and report just a few of the amazing successes the program was able to accomplish for maternal, newborn and child survival. In coordination with other U.S. Government funded activities in the health sector, over the last three years our Maternal and Child Survival Program ensured that:

  • Over 13,000 newborns who were not breathing at birth were successfully resuscitated, addressing one of the primary causes of preventable newborn deaths.
  • Over 170,000 children received treatment for diarrhea, and nearly 190,000 more received antibiotics for pneumonia, addressing two of the major causes of child mortality.
  • Roughly 250,000 women received uterotonics at the time of child birth to prevent and treat postpartum hemorrhage, the leading cause of maternal deaths.
  • And over half a million children under five were tested for malaria at the community level.

Each of these lives transformed brings us closer and closer to ending all preventable child and maternal deaths by 2035.  I am reminded of an Umugani Mugufi [short saying] that I learned recently: “Buhoro buhoro bwagejeje umuhovu ku ruzi” [“step by step the snail gets to the river”].

Moving forward, we are delighted to pass the baton to our newest flagship activity in the area of child and maternal health: the USAID-funded Ingobyi activity, a 5-year project worth nearly 42 billion Rwandan Francs.

The Ingobyi activity will largely build upon the Maternal and Child Survival Program.  In 20 districts across Rwanda, our Ingobyi activity will focus on improving and standardizing a suite of healthcare services—including reproductive, maternal, neonatal, child health, and malaria services—which the Maternal and Child Survival Program proved the incredible efficacy of for reducing maternal and child mortality.

In partnership with the Government of Rwanda, and in particular the Ministry of Health, we are confident that this new project will bring us ever closer to closing the gap, and ending all preventable child and maternal deaths by 2035.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank project staff of the Maternal and Child Survival Program for all you’ve accomplished during the past 3 years.

I would also like to thank the frontline workers of this noble fight to end preventable child and maternal deaths: the community health workers, the nurses, the midwives, and the doctors across Rwanda. Words alone cannot express the immense appreciation you are owed for your tireless work.  I am sure everyone agrees with me, that without you, we can do nothing!

Finally, please let me thank the Ministry of Health for a clear vision, able leadership and unwavering commitment to a healthy future for all Rwandans.

Together, we will create a Rwanda in which no mother or child has to die from preventable causes.

Murakoze Cyane!