What role should parents and schools play to end malnutrition?

Children take porridge in Mageragere Sector. Sam Ngendahimana.

Malnutrition is a condition where there is excess or deficiency of some nutrients in the diet. Thanks to several government campaigns, malnutrition in Rwanda is on the decline, although concerted efforts by parents and schools have been called upon, to end it completely.

Sharon Kantengwa asked a cross section of people what measures schools and parents need to take in order to contribute toward the fight against malnutrition.

Parents have the biggest role to play here as they are the caretakers of children. They need to ensure that the children have a balanced diet by ensuring that they feed them with food that contain protein, vitamins and carbohydrates.

Schools, on the other hand, need to consult nutritionists to prepare a meal plan for the children that feed at school. Very few of the schools have meal plans that are professionally planned by nutritionists.

Erick Musengimana, nutritionist

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Schools need to improve on their nutrition literature, just like they have done for hygiene, and public speaking. Schools can start by providing an opportunity for students to explore diet diversity, through meals and their school gardens. This way, they will fight obesity amongst students as well as malnutrition.

Clare Tibenda, teacher

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First, some of the parents don’t have the right information on how to feed their children. While the Government has put in place a system for community health workers to teach communities how to prepare a balanced diet and the right foods for babies and children, sometimes citizens don’t attend those events.

Most people, for example, think that complementary feeding for babies should start at nine months yet they should start at six months. We always hear about balanced diet but most people don’t know the composition of a balanced diet and what is important like the amount of each food needed and the right food for the baby.

Community health workers need to mobilise and sensitise people to attend those events and get the right information.

Marie Grace Nkundabombi, nutritionist

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Parents need to make good use of kitchen gardens and seek knowledge on nutritional foods. Buying nutritious foods may not be affordable for all homes but growing your own vegetables and fruits is cost effective and will ensure that parents are responsible for what their children feed.

 

Stuart Uwizeye, parent

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