Treating malnutrition is expensive, which is why it is important for parents to take preventive measures.
Thomas Muyombo, a paediatrician at Rwanda Biomedical Centre, said there are very many indicators for malnourished children and parents should be able to tell when their children need special attention.
He was speaking at a meeting with local leaders from the Eastern Province together with civil society organisations representatives convened in Kigali this week to discuss ways to scale up nutrition in the country.
“It is costly to treat malnourished children, which is why it is important to sensitise parents about feeding their children with a balanced diet. We all should work together as Rwandans to ensure that the issue is tackled,” said Dr Muyombo, who is also a popular local artiste under stage name, Tom Close.
Rwanda’s food security stands at 80 per cent yet a report from SUN Alliance Rwanda indicates that more than 38 per cent of children in the country, are stunted than ten years ago.
It is in this regard that the meeting was organised to forge ways to scale up nutrition campaigns.
Manasseh Wandera, the executive director of Society for Health that hosted the workshop, noted the need for sectoral leaders to be advocates of the campaign.
“We, first of all, need to know the sole cause of malnutrition by sensitising citizens on ensuring a balanced diet and increasing financial investment to address. It is everybody’s responsibility to ensure that malnutrition is tackled which is why we are involving sector leaders to become advocates for the change,” he said.
He also emphasised the need for the government to include nutrition in performance contracts so that local leaders can participate in advocating for increased allocation of resources for nutrition.
According to the report by SUN Alliance, the annual costs associated with child under-nutrition are estimated at Rwf503.6 billion, an equivalent of 11.5 per cent of GDP, yet most of the health costs associated with under-nutrition occur before the child turns one year old.
At least 21.9 per cent of all child mortality cases in Rwanda are associated with under-nutrition.