The Minister for Health, Dr Diane Gashumba, has urged members of the public to uphold hygiene, starting from the household, in a bid to fight malaria and other poor hygiene-induced diseases.
The minister was speaking at the launch of the Integrated Maternal and Child Health Week in Rubavu District, which runs from May 14 to 18.
Promoting hygiene in all aspects of life will enable the country to have families with healthy mothers and children which will translate into a healthy and productive population, she said.
The campaign involves the ministries of health, gender and family promotion, and local government as a synergy to scale up interventions and approaches to reach zero malnutrition and stunting among all children under five.
The campaign is also being used as a platform for mass sensitisation on different health issues, including malaria prevention, immunisation, hygiene and sanitation, family planning and nutrition.
Key activities include deworming children aged 12 months to 15 years and giving Vitamin A supplement to children aged between 6-59 months.
Gashumba said that Rwanda has made tremendous steps in different health indicators such as vaccination, which is at 93%, reduction of infant mortality rate from 40 to 17 per 1000 births, high rate of women giving birth at health facilities (at 91%), high rate of subscription to community based health insurance, among others.
“But it is a shame that we are still lagging in as regards fighting child stunting. It is within our means to end it and we must. We need cooperation starting from the community level,” she said.
She added that for the nutrition drive to be successful, it has to go hand in hand with family planning, saying that families must have children they are capable of feeding.
The 2015 household survey, conducted by the National Institute of Statistics of Rwanda, revealed that 38 per cent of children in the country are stunted and Rubavu is among the districts with highest rate at 46%.
On the other hand, Esperance Nyirasafari, said the campaign was combined with the celebration of the International Day of Families because all the activities in this campaign will be aiming at sustaining the welfare of families.
She stressed that the development of families cannot be attained with the current rate of malnutrition, poor adherence to family planning, familial conflicts, and poor hygiene, among others.
Nyirasafari urged families to understand that adopting healthy life style is in their interest.