The Minister of Gender and Family Promotion (MIGEPROF), Esperance Nyirasafari, has encouraged the use of a dynamic approach in the fight against malnutrition and called on all responsible parties to join efforts because that way a lot will be achieved.
She made the call last week during a forum that was held in line with continued sensitization about the welfare of families.
“Coming together can help us achieve a lot and I believe we can make it. Let us all stand up and fight against malnutrition but the primary role should be that of parents,” she said.
The forum which was organised by her ministry in partnership with the City of Kigali among other stakeholders also aimed at sharing ideas on the way forward in seeking stronger interventions for problems affecting Rwandan households in general such as malnutrition, gender based violence, teen pregnancies, and the promotion of early childhood development.
The minister added that there was still the problem of stunting caused by a number of other problems in the family such as conflicts which may affect the way children are cared for, at times it’s because of ignorance or lack of financial stability.
Nyirasafari pointed out that sensitization had been done but there is need for more. What was still holding back the current efforts was the fact that some people don’t see malnutrition as a problem.
“This is a very serious issue that has long term effects and this is what people should understand. They should understand that the effects are long term,” she noted.
“This is a wakeup call for everyone to understand that it is their responsibility, the children we bear are ours we need to understand the relevance of this deeply and take the necessary steps by first of all responding to the programs available”.
Dr Anita Asiimwe, the National Early Childhood Development Program Coordinator, emphasised that there was need to sensitise people at all levels to understand the disadvantages of stunting and how its effects strongly affect the country’s development in general.
In her presentation, she showed that children in the Northern, Western and Southern provinces are highly stunted with 39%, 45% and 41% respectively.
According to the Demographic Health Survey 2014/2015, the stunting prevalence rate in Kigali City per district was 29%, 22% and 17% for Nyarugenge, Gasabo, and Kicukiro districts respectively.
Asiimwe explained that the first years of a child’s development are very important in brain development this is why the damage is done between 6 and 24 months. If a child gets stunted in the first 1000 days, it is not possible to reverse the situation.
“Our aim is to reach out to all people and the only way to achieve this is to partner, this is why we go through existing programs like Umugoroba w’ababyeyi (a parents’ evening) to disseminate the information,” she said.
The Mayor of Kigali City, Marie-Chantal Rwakazina, said focus should be mainly where the challenges still exist.