The Director of Programmes at UNICEF headquarters, Nicholas Alipui, has commended the government’s efforts in protecting children.
The UN official made the remarks, yesterday, while addressing the second national nutritional summit that has attracted participants from various African countries, UN agencies and other international organizations.
“Here in Rwanda, tremendous progress has been done in reducing the child and maternal mortality, increasing access to education, safe water and sanitation and ensuring that rates of HIV and malaria stay down,” said Alipui.
He noted that at the global level, overall progress towards MDGs and other international commitments to children is positive.
“Today, fewer children under five years die every year, as has been case over the past two decades,” said Alipui.
He disclosed that the death rate of children under-five worldwide decreased from more than 12 million in 1990 to 7.6 million in 2010, adding that more children are accessing education.
The conference is organised under the theme: “Scaling up of multi-sector nutrition interventions, sustaining gains in national efforts to eliminate malnutrition”.
Though the government has put in place mechanisms to fight against malnutrition-based illnesses, statistics from the Ministry of Health show that 44 percent of children under five are still affected by chronic malnutrition diseases.
The results indicate that regional disparities exist in provinces, with the Northern and Western provinces recording a prevalence rate of 50.7 percent, and 49.9 percent, respectively. Eastern Province registered a rate of 43.9 percent and Southern Province, 42.3 percent and Kigali City, 23.5percent.
According to the research, while previous national data on malnutrition showed no differences by sex, the preliminary 2010 Demographic Health survey results suggests that male children are more likely to be malnourished than female, with a prevalence of 47.4 percent.
Dr. Théogène Rutagwenda, the Director General of Animal Resources in the Ministry of Agriculture, told The New Times that the government was intensifying efforts to change the situation.
“We are continuing to emphasise and help all nationals to adopt kitchen gardens that will help them eat vegetables and avoid malnutrition,” he said.
Vegetables such as carrots, tomatoes and cabbages, among others, are usually planted in such gardens for domestic consumption.
He noted that programmes like the One-cow-per-family, One-pint-milk-per-child in schools, and the distribution of rabbits in schools, were some of the mechanisms introduced to fight malnutrition.
Other causes of malnutrition include lack of access to a proper diet, unclean water, political instabilities, poverty, certain illnesses and infections, such as tuberculosis, measles and diarrhoea, amongst others.