[EDITORIAL] More efforts needed to fight malnutrition

A health awareness campaign by the Rwanda Biomedical Centre (RBC) with support of the United Nations Children's Emergency Fund (UNICEF) concluded last week in Rwamagana District.

A health awareness campaign by the Rwanda Biomedical Centre (RBC) with support of the United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) concluded last week in Rwamagana District.

The campaign aimed at improving service delivery and promoting behavioral change to ensure maternal and child health during the first 1000 days, among others.

 

Over the years, Rwanda has registered progress in fighting malnutrition among children. Figures from the Ministry of Health show that 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.

 

However, despite this progress, malnutrition is still a big threat especially in the rural communities. This calls for more efforts from the key stake holders to avoid reversing the current gains.

 

For example, it should be the primary responsibility of every parent to ensure that their children feed on a balanced diet to avoid cases of stunted growth. In most cases, it is not an issue of lack of food in homes but many parents don’t follow up on what their children eat because of busy work schedules.

In some homes, parents leave the responsibility of feeding children to the maids who unfortunately sometimes don’t appreciate the importance of ensuring that children, especially those below five feed on a balanced diet.

Parents should always closely follow up what their children eat, even when not at home.

Also, Community Health Workers (CHWs) should not wait for national campaigns, they should regularly conduct door-to-door visits to teach about the values of good nutrition in communities.

Stunting among under five stands at 38% countrywide, but this can be cut by more than half if every parent makes it a priority to ensure that their children eat the recommended diet.

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