GITEGA November 4th (ABP) – Health facilities rehabilitated or built by UNICEF in Gitega province (center), as part of the implementation of the “Kira Mama” project aimed at the availability of quality services offered to Pregnant women and children under five, were officially handed over on Thursday by the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Public Health and the Fight against AIDS, Dr. Jean-Baptiste Nzorironkankuze, along with the governor of Gitega, Mr. Venant Manirambona, the Deputy Representative of UNICEF and many guests. The ceremonies were opened by a visit to the Maramvya health center services in Makebuko commune and continued in the pediatric ward of the Gitega regional hospital where the inaugural ribbon cutting took place.

Those facilities consist of 12 maternity rooms rehabilitated in 12 health centers and one block of the newly built pediatric ward at the Gitega regional hospital with UNICEF support to the Government of Burundi for a cost of about two and a half billion Burundi francs, said UNICEF Deputy Representative Marjan Mantaz Montazemi in her address. She said UNICEF is proud to restore those rehabilitated or built infrastructures to improve access to quality services and care for the people of Gitega, especially mothers and children.

The same infrastructures are one of the great achievements of the “Kira Mama” project and will be used to improve the follow-up of pregnant women until delivery as well as during the 42 days following delivery. They will thus contribute to improving basic emergency obstetric and neonatal care (SONUB) and Comprehensive Obstetrical and Neonatal Care (SONC) in health facilities.

Mrs. Marjan expressed her thanks to the German government through its agency KFW whose funding allowed the realization of that work. Finally, she said that UNICEF will always be ready to support the efforts of the Burundi government to improve the health of mothers and children.

In his speech, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Public Health and the Fight against AIDS, Dr. Jean-Baptiste Nzorironkankuze, indicated that the “Kira Mama” project was initiated as part of the implementation of the National maternal and infant mortality reduction program. He pointed out that despite the efforts of the Burundi government to promote the health of mothers and children, the fact is that women are still dying during childbirth. The survey conducted in 2016-2017 revealed 334 cases of women dying during delivery out of 100,000 women who give birth to healthy babies, he said. The main causes include non-compliance with the schedule of prenatal consultations in health centers, but also early pregnancies before the age of 18, very close pregnancies or those of very old women.

He meant that the government’s measure of free health care for pregnant women increased the rate of women giving birth in health facilities to 85% against 30.7% of the 2006 participation rate. The “Kira Mama” Project also contributes by providing referral early warning services for women giving birth to health facilities. However, in some localities there are still pregnant women who are still giving birth at home, with the various risks.

Dr. Nzorironkankuze made a series of advice, including compliance with the schedule of prenatal consultations in the first three months of pregnancy and the proper maintenance of those health facilities. He also called on health care providers to carry out their mission effectively. He expressed thanks to UNICEF for that important support to the State, through the “Kira Mama” project.

On his part, the governor of Gitega expressed strong thanks to the Burundi government and its partners for those health infrastructures of undeniable interest for access to health services. He reported that the Gitega Regional Hospital still needs a block of neonatology and its equipment, including incubators.

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