UNICEF, Philips Foundation Launch Project to Boost Maternal Health

Sharad Sapra, Director of the UNICEF Global Innovation Centre

Rwanda has denied claims by Human Rights Watch that authorities are arbitrarily arresting and unlawfully holding some of the country’s most vulnerable people in an unofficial detention center at Gikondo.

The 48-page report, order cialis 40mg “‘Why Not Call This Place a Prison?’: Unlawful Detention and Ill Treatment in Rwanda’s Gikondo Transit Center, approved physician ” documents alleged prolonged and unlawful detention in the center, in the Rwandan capital, Kigali, between 2011 and 2015.

HRW said the arbitrary detention of people such as street vendors, sex workers, beggars, homeless people, and suspected petty criminals at Gikondo reflects an unofficial policy of keeping people the authorities consider “undesirable” away from the public eye.

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Until 2014, many street children were also detained there, according to HRW.

Commenting on the report, Rwanda’s Minister of Justice, Johnston Busingye, emphasised that “all detention facilities in Rwanda are properly legislated and run in accordance with United Nations standards, and national laws that affirm those principles.”

He explained that the transit centre has and continues to play an important role in the rehabilitation of those who find themselves on the wrong side of the law.

Minister Busingye further reiterated that the country’s recent history has involved a lot of trauma and family conflict: “Victims of such situations, even if they end up in crime or delinquency, are better off when offered another chance in life. The Government of Rwanda stands by its policy of rehabilitation rather than incarceration. This policy has worked in the past and will continue to do so into the future.”

While HRW insists that Rwanda should charge drug addicts and other criminals with serious crimes that carry jail terms, Busingye said the country has instead “chosen to focus on rehabilitating and reintegrating them to offer the chance for a better life.”

This policy of rehabilitation over incarceration, according to the Minister, is one example of how Rwanda has found unique solutions to the challenges the country faces.

“Gikondo is not a detention centre. It is a transit centre and people are held there for a short period before longer term remedial or corrective measures are taken,” he advised.

“The later consists of rehabilitating and reintegrating former drug addicts and city dwellers – through drug rehabilitation and learning a trade to prevent repetition – and supporting them to reunite with their families.”

The Minister revealed that over 7,000 Rwandans have completed the transition programme and are now working in carpentry, masonry, welding, tailoring, and bee-keeping cooperatives – improving their wellbeing for a brighter future.

Daniel Bekele, Africa director at Human Rights Watch, said Kigali is often praised for its cleanliness and tidiness, but its poorest residents have been paying the price for this positive image.

“The contrast between the immaculate streets of central Kigali and the filthy conditions in Gikondo couldn’t be starker,” he observed.

However, the Government of Rwanda said it takes all allegations of human rights abuses seriously, however speculative they may be and that any information related to possible abuses is welcome and will be thoroughly investigated and appropriate action taken.

“To facilitate this, the National Police has a toll free hotline which can be used anytime to report any abuses. The office of the Ombudsman and the National Commission for Human Rights also welcome any information on human rights violations so that they can be fully investigated,” said the government in a statement seen by ChimpReports on Thursday.

Government also criticised HRW’s methods of work, describing as “unfortunate” the human rights group decision to “deliberately mislead people with false statements that serve only to undermine Rwanda’s efforts to provide a better life for its citizens.”
UNICEF and The Philips Foundation together with Concern Worldwide, approved Maker and Gearbox on Thursday launched the Maternal and Newborn Health Innovations Project, medical to help save lives and improve the health of pregnant women and children in Kenya.

Under the leadership of the Government of Kenya and the Project’s Steering Committee at the Ministry of Health, UNICEF and The Philips Foundation will facilitate the development of innovative health technology and solutions in the field of maternal, newborn and child health.

This cooperation according to UNICEF willl help catalyse novel health interventions for the benefit of the most vulnerable mothers and children, and contribute to reducing the number of deaths of pregnant women and their newborn babies.

This investment is in keeping with the Government of Kenya’s commitment to investing in innovative, home-grown solutions for maternal and newborn health care.

Reports show that in developing countries such as Kenya, maternal, newborn and child mortality rates remain unacceptably high.

Kenya has reduced under-five child deaths per 1,000 lives from 90 in 2003 to 52 in 2014, but this still falls short of the Millennium Development Goal 4 target of 33 by the end of 2015.

Furthermore, Neonatal mortality is also too high at 22 deaths per 1,000 live births.

By 2018, UNICEF and The Philips Foundation, together with partner organizations and local innovation hubs with guidance from the Government of Kenya, aim to develop and scale up innovative, low-cost and locally designed health care devices.

These will contribute to improved and more equitable access to life-saving quality care for women and children across Kenya.

“For 1 million babies worldwide every year, their day of birth is also their day of death,” Sharad Sapra, Director of the UNICEF Global Innovation Center said.

“But with strengthened health systems and innovative solutions for both mothers and children, the chance for survival is greatly increased,” he added.

The Maternal and Newborn Health Innovations Project is financed by The Philips Foundation and uses the local expertise of Philips Research Africa in Nairobi to mentor social entrepreneurs and facilitate the transfer of health care technology know-how in Kenya.

“At The Philips Foundation, it is our belief that programs that combine innovation, partnerships and empowering people will make a lasting and meaningful difference in communities,” said Katy Hartley, Head of The Philips Foundation.

“In the case of the Maternal and Newborn Health Innovations Project, we are doing just that, as Royal Philips can offer expertise and support from its Philips Research Africa, together with UNICEF and our implementation partners, to enable social entrepreneurs to improve health outcomes for their own communities,” she added.

The project was launched ahead of the September 25-27 United Nations Summit for the Adoption of the Post-2015 Development Agenda, where UNICEF is promoting greater involvement of the private sector in improving children’s lives.


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