Parents in various districts have said that they are putting in more efforts to eradicate malnutrition among children and promote hygiene for better growth of their children.
They said this in an awareness campaign by the Rwanda Biomedical Centre (RBC) with The United nations for Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in ten districts. The campaign was concluded last week in Rwamagana District.
It aimed at improving quantity and quality of service delivery at community level, promoting behavior change regarding maternal and child health during the first 1000 days, increase interaction between Community Health Workers (CHWs) and beneficiaries on available health services.
The campaign also aimed at raising awareness on available service provided by Community Health Workers (CHWS), Increase utilization of their services, early identification and timely reporting of cases of Pregnancy cycle, Birth, postnatal care, child health and nutrition while creating an open collaboration between CHWs and beneficiaries among others.
Parents said they had learnt their role in promoting nutrition and other child care initiatives through community-based nutrition (CBN); hygiene and sanitation; and addressing childhood killer diseases through community case management.
They also committed to ensure that stunting among children is reduced for their children to have better growth physically and psychologically.
Stunting among under five stands at 38% countrywide despite more efforts to avert the trend.
“We have put in more efforts to fight malnutrition, as a mother, I know well how to cook a balanced diet for my babies, I have a particular diet for them and I cook quality food, besides we have community based nutrition programs where we cook together and feed our children,” said Margret Nyirabahinyuza from Ruhuha sector, Bugesera Dstrict.
The mother of three added that many parents attend anti natal care and visit health facilities four or three times before they give birth.
“We work with community health workers and they encourage us to visit hospitals, this helps us get medical care and advice on how we can give birth to health babies, it also eases nutrition because it is easier to feed a healthy baby just after birth,” she said.
Laetitia Niyonshuti, a mother of two from Kigoma sector, Nyanza District said,
“Our behaviors vis a vis child care has improved and stunting is rare among our children thanks to campaigns and encouragement by community health workers, local leaders and health practitioners,” she said.
“We have also learned how to promote hygiene in our families to prevent hygiene related diseases, we sleep under mosquito nets and malaria cases have reduced,” she said.
Figures from the Ministry of Health indicate that progress has been made in improving child survival in Rwanda where under-five mortality rate has declined by two thirds since 1990 from 152 deaths per 1,000 live births in 1990 to 50 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2014.
This helped save over 300,000 newborns who could have been died of preventable diseases, according to the officials.
The reduction of preventable child deaths was also a great stride towards achieving equity, as the Government has scaled up doorstep services of integrated community case management (iCCM) to the rural hard to reach areas.
Other factors include introduction of first 1000 days communication campaign launched in 2013 that registered a progress to reduce stunting and malnutrition among families, through different activities including community and social mobilization, field works, mass media, community dialogues, and interpersonal communication activities.
Eric Ruzindana, Bugesera District vice mayor in charge of economic affairs said local leaders are committed to work with citizens especially parents to ensure the life of newborns is better thus ensuring they have a better future.
He urged parents to work hard to ensure that lessons and advice provided to them are put into good use saying that this would help them promote better nutrition and hygiene in their families.