May 24, 2024

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Rwanda’s Community Health System: Empowering Safe Birth and Transforming Lives

Through the pandemic, single mothers endured mental health struggles and to some the effects still lives on. Illustration Credit: Pixabay

By Ange de la Victoire DUSABEMUNGU

Ingabire R., a proud mother living in Agatare Village of Kinyinya Sector in Gasabo District, has a remarkable success story that exemplifies the incredible impact of community health workers in Rwanda.

 In 2022, when she became pregnant with her first child, Ingabire faced numerous challenges due to the changes her body was undergoing.

Determined to ensure a safe and healthy pregnancy, she sought guidance from the local Community Health Worker in her village.

The Community Health Worker played a pivotal role in Ingabire’s journey by providing her with vital information and support.

With a deep understanding of the behavior that should characterize a pregnant woman, the Health Worker guided Ingabire on maintaining a healthy lifestyle, ensuring proper nutrition, and managing any discomfort she experienced.

The Health Worker emphasized the importance of regular check-ups, encouraging Ingabire to prioritize her health and that of her unborn child.

Ingabire fondly recalls how the Health Worker’s guidance and encouragement played a significant role in her successful birthing experience.

Armed with knowledge and confidence, Ingabire navigated her pregnancy journey with ease and grace.

The Health Worker ensured that Ingabire attended prenatal care appointments, where she received essential medical assistance, closely monitored her baby’s growth, and addressed any concerns that arose.

When the time came for Ingabire to give birth, she was well-prepared and empowered, thanks to the support she received from her Health Worker.

The Health Worker had educated Ingabire on the signs of labor, provided guidance on breathing techniques and pain management, and familiarized her with the birthing process. This invaluable information helped Ingabire navigate the birthing experience confidently and comfortably.

Ingabire’s story is not unique in Rwanda, where the Community Health System has revolutionized healthcare and empowered countless individuals. These dedicated and compassionate Health Workers serve as the backbone of the healthcare system, bringing essential services to rural and remote areas. Their impact goes beyond safe childbirth, extending to areas such as disease prevention, health education, and early detection of health issues.

Rwanda’s Health system Journey

According to Health Experts, Rwanda’s healthcare journey is nothing short of extraordinary. The country, devastated by the 1994 genocide, embarked on a mission to rebuild not only its infrastructure but also its healthcare system.

Today, Rwandans benefit from a comprehensive and decentralized community health system, which has played a pivotal role in improving access to quality healthcare and promoting safe births.

One of the key pillars of Rwanda’s success lies in its emphasis on community health workers (CHWs).

These local individuals, often volunteers, are trained to deliver essential healthcare services directly to their communities.

Pregnant women and children remain one of the groups at highest risk of complications from malaria infection.

Rwanda has an impressive ratio of one CHW per 150 Rwandans, facilitating a proactive and personalized approach to healthcare delivery.

The impact of this community-based approach is reflected in the statistics.

Rwanda has achieved remarkable progress in reducing maternal and infant mortality rates. According to the World Bank, the maternal mortality rate in Rwanda decreased from 1,071 deaths per 100,000 live births in 2000 to 208 deaths per 100,000 live births in 2015. Similarly, the under-five mortality rate dropped from 196 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2000 to 38 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2019.

Through regular home visits, CHWs monitor the progress of pregnancies, educate mothers on proper nutrition and hygiene, and promote the importance of institutional deliveries.

Rwanda’s community health system has effectively bridged the gap between healthcare providers and the community, fostering

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