KIGALI - The wife to Kenyan Prime Minister, Ida Odinga, has called on all nations to boost the nutritional needs of their populations, especially that of mothers and infants, as a strategy of achieving sustainable development.
Mrs Odinga, who is also a nutrition activist, made this call during the official opening ceremony of the First National Nutrition Summit yesterday in Kacyiru.
“Rwanda’s recent efforts to increase agricultural produce in a bid to ensure food security have been impressive, however much more needs to be done to address nutrition needs”
“Pregnant mothers must acquire proper nutrition and governments should ensure that infants do not suffer from malnutrition, a problem which hinders nations from raising productive citizens that should contribute significantly to the development process,” she said.
Citing Kenya’s long droughts that eventually led to famine, Mrs. Odinga also noted that leaders must take the initiative to act immediately when emergency situations occur.
“I personally congratulate President Paul Kagame for identifying the need to act immediately against malnutrition. So far Rwanda is highly rated as a country on the right path, so leaders should aim at demonstrating good leadership,” the activist noted.
The Minister of Health, Dr. Richard Sezibera, said that the first phase of the malnutrition campaign was successful.
“During our April campaign, 1.2 million children were checked and about 60,000 were malnourished. Some as a result of poor feeding while others due to poverty or being born with HIV.
“Urgent interventions were made to ensure that they recover. Right now we are focusing on long term well-designed plans at district and sector levels which will eliminate the problem sustainably,” Sezibera told The New Times.
According to officials, the three-day summit comes as a platform through which experts and policy makers will discuss the way forward based on evidence of the past interventions.
Sezibera also underscored that by improving the nutrition of the population, government’s progress towards achieving the millennium development goals will be accelerated.
“Nutrition is a cross-cutting issue so once it is improved, it will lower child mortality rates, maternal mortality, assure education for all which are all components of these goals,” he added.
Participants emphasized the need to sensitize the public on proper feeding citing that traditional foods have high nutritional levels compared to processed foods.