The Ministry of Health has launched a week-long national campaign to reach out to children and mothers in an effort to promote healthier living.
The campaign was launched in Cyanika Sector, Burera Distric,t on Monday, where mothers and children were given free doses of Albendole and vitamin A.
The drive will engage health mobilisers and local leaders to reach out to mothers and children below five years on hygiene, nutrition and child care awareness.
Speaking at the launch, James Kamanzi, the director-general of Rwanda Biomedical Centre, said despite the tremendous progress registered in healthcare, a lot needs to be done secure the lives of mothers and children.
“Thirty-eight per cent of children below five years still face malnutrition; this figure is still high. Let us join hands to fight malnutrition to reduce child mortality. We are committed to follow up pregnant women and protect the unborn, carry out vaccination and provide ambulance to mothers who live far from the health facilities. Healthcare givers will also be supported to mobilise residents,” Kamanzi said.
The governor of the Northern Province, Aime Bosenibamwe, stressed the need for the right nutrition and care for mother and child to shape their future prospects.
“We have made tremendous progress in reducing maternal and child mortality. However, we still have many cases of malnutrition among children. Fighting malnutrition does not require a big budget,” Bosenibamwe said.
Maternal and child survival in the region has improved by 50 per cent since 1990, but newborn survival and child nutrition are still challenges that must be addressed, according to The Countdown to 2015 Report, A Decade of Tracking Progress for Maternal, Newborn and Child Survival, launched last month in Mexico.
Bosenibamwe urged parents and local leaders to prioritise child care so as to boost their growth and participation in national development.
“If a child dies in infancy it’s a blow to the whole country. Proper care offers high prospects for a child’s ability to grow and support the country physically and intellectually,” Bosenibamwe said.
He used the occasion to advise parents to adopt family planning so as to have manageable families.
Martaza Marick, the UNICEF representative in Rwanda, appealed to children and mothers to adopt a culture of washing hands using soap to prevent diseases.
“Washing hands with water only is not enough; washing hand with clean water and soap can prevent deaths of over a million of children. I call upon the children to sensitise their peers to embrace the culture of washing hand before eating and after visiting toilets. Mothers shouls also wash hands before breastfeeding or preparing a child’s food,” Marick said.
Mothers at the launch welcomed the campaign and promised to embrace vaccination.
Venerand Nyiramahirwe, a resident of Cyanika Sector, encouraged other mothers to adhere to health workers’ advice for the sake of producing healthy children.
“I am one of the people who received drugs today and I hope it will make a positive impact to me and my child. I encourage other women to have kitchen gardens to fight malnutrition among children and build smart toilets to avoid poor hygiene-related diseases,” Nyiramahirwe said.
Samuel Sembagare, the mayor of Burera, promised the district’s support to vulnerable residents in building good pit-latrines to ensure that families are safe.
He urged residents to make hygiene part of their culture.
“Hygiene has been part of our culture it’s not imported; our ancestors had good names that promote hygiene namely; Nyirasuku, Muhungwasuku and Umwangavu. Men and women should put effort together to ensure that children are clean. We shall teach them until they understand that hygiene is a principle of life,” Sembagare said.