Viviane Nyiragwiza has for the past nine years had to endure difficulties associated with nursing a diabetic child, so much so that she had to quit her job to take on a full-time nursing job for her son. Her son, now nine years, was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at a tender age of nine months and life has never been the same. “My son was diagnosed with diabetes when he was just nine months old, I had to quit my job so I can take care of him, the National Diabetes Association gives us medical assistance every month, because the medicines are really expensive, and it was challenging at first but now with constant monitoring and a healthy diet he is fine” added the mother of three. She says that families should always mind what they feed their children especially reducing sugar intake. She also challenges other parents to always take their children for check-up in case they show signs. Early diagnosis will help them take better care of the sick child, she counsels. According to a report from the World Health organisation, it is estimated that Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs), including heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes and chronic lung disease, accounted for 44 percent of total annual mortality in Rwanda. The burden of NCDs in Rwanda has increased over the years, and the experts urge that the fight of NCDs should start at a young age. Alphonse Mbarushimana, a programme manager at NCD Alliance Rwanda said that they have noticed a rising number in NCDs cases especially in schools where more children are getting such diseases and he attributes this to the unhealthy diet and lack of exercise. He also advised parents to steer away from risk factors that are largely attributable to NCDs. “We can reduce exposing children to risks of contracting NCDs and it is every family’s role to do so, this can start with raising awareness around the four risk factors.” “Parents should also be conscious about what they consume next to their children, for example some parents smoke in the presence of their children which is dangerous because they passively inhale the smoke, or give them sips of alcohol which is prohibited but can also put their children at risk of NCDs,” he added. Poor nutrition blamed Etienne Uwingabire, Director of Rwanda National Diabetes Association said that the association recorded some 900 cases of diabetes in youth from infants to 25 year olds. Some of them go undiagnosed for almost 10 years. “Many of these cases were recorded in Southern Province and some are associated with malnutrition, while some parents are still not aware of what diabetes is so when their kids fall sick, they take them to traditional healers,” he said. Delaying to get them the necessary medical attention, Uwingabire said, normally worsens the child’s condition because it means they are not getting insulin and they are not monitored daily. Private Kamanzi, a Kigali-based nutritionist said most NCDs cases in children are due to malnutrition and parents should ensure to incorporate a healthy diet right from when the mother is pregnant. “Parents should giving their children industry-processed foods, like juices or other products, because they have added sugars and saturated, so when consumed at a young age they will cause NCDs in young children” Kamanzi also added that children and young people should include more fruits and vegetables in their daily dietary plan, because these help boost their immune system and help the body fight NCDs. Efforts to get the comprehensive figures from Rwanda Biomedical Centre were futile by press time.