The anti-malnutrition campaign in Rubavu District is bearing fruit, residents said.
Residents said this last week during community outreach, where officials from the Ministry of Health visited the area to assess the implementation of the national campaign to improve nutrition status of the vulnerable population such as children under five years, pregnant and lactating mothers as well as school going children.
Nearly two years ago, the Ministry of Health launched the campaign, dubbed “1000 Days”, to fight against malnutrition (during 1000-day period) right from pregnancy through to the first two years of a child’s life.
Rubavu residents said this period has been critical for them as they embraced various initiatives to fight malnutrition such as cultivating kitchen gardens in their homes, nutrition conversations at family meetings, commonly known as Umugoroba wababyeyi, and lessons on how to prepare balanced diet.
“We used to have stunted children due to ignorance but now, thanks to various campaigns to combat malnutrition, we have been taught how to prepare balanced diets in our homes. We now feed our children well and malnutrition will be eliminated in the near future,” said Lucie Nyirahabimana.
The mother of four said she was committed to fight malnutrition and properly take care of her children.
Louise Nzayisenga, a mother of three, said malnutrition was always caused by ignorance.
“We had all kinds of foodstuff but most of us thought good feeding was eating too much.
Nathan Mugume, the head of the communication division at Rwanda Biomedical Centre, said the countrywide tour is an ongoing mass sensitisation to ensure parents and local leaders understand and implement programmes to ensure better health of children in 1000 days.
The target is to have 95 per cent of child care takers equipped with skills in nutrition, 90 per cent of men understand their role in children nutrition while 98 per cent of health practitioners in different health centres have essential skills by the end of the campaign, according to Mugume.
Stunted growth is still a major threat in the country, standing at 44 per cent among children under five, according to the 2010 Demographic and Health Survey, way above the World Health Organisation’s target of 20 per cent.