Religious leaders in the country, under the umbrella Rwanda Interfaith Council for Health (RICH), have joined the fight against malnutrition in children. This was announced on Wednesday during a joint workshop aimed at promoting the “1000 Days” campaign, jointly organised by the Ministry of Health, Unicef and RICH. The “1,000-Days” campaign is a three-year national initiative, that seeks to improve feeding among children under five years of age, pregnant and lactating mothers, as well as school going children, to reduce morbidity and mortality related to malnutrition. Onesphore Rwaje, the Anglican Church Archbishop, in a speech read out by a representative, said nutrition messages woven in scripture were already being disseminated in church services. “Good nutrition is good for anyone’s wellbeing and, as Christians, it’s an obligation to continue emphasising it,” he said. Noala Skinner, the Unicef Country Representative, said clerics, as people who are highly respected and influential, it was imperative that they are fully involved with behavioural change programmes as far as nutrition is concerned. “Good nutrition is critical for child development and the development of a nation. Adequate food and nutrition are essential for physical, cognitive and emotional growth,” she said. Malnutrition cases in the country have steadily been dropping over the years. By April 2014, acute malnutrition stood at 0.8 per cent, down from 3 per cent in 2010. However, stunted growth remained a major problem, at about 44 per cent for children under five, according to the 2010 Demographic and Health Survey, way above the World Health Organisation’s target of 20 per cent. “Up to 46 per cent of those cases were in rural areas while 27.3 per cent were reported in urban areas. The Northern Province had the highest cases with 50.5 per cent, followed by the Western Province with 49.9 per cent,” said Dr Solange Hakiba Itulinde, the permanent secretary at the Ministry of Health. The ministry also said 80 per cent of the population that suffer from malnutrition was food secure.