UNICEF’s Global Director of Programmes, Dr. Nicholas Alipui, has said that investing in nutrition is the foundation for sustainable development.
He made the call this week during the Rwanda National Summit on Nutrition where he hailed the country for keeping nutrition high on its national agenda. He urged other countries to follow suit to ensure optimal child development.
“If we could identify, invest in, and mobilise our best talent and resources to secure nutrition as a foundation for national development, we could eliminate stunting and ensure good nutrition for all children,” he said in a statement.
“We could build the strongest possible foundation for equitable development – for all children, for all our countries and we could use this basis for a lifetime of good growth, development, improved learning and productive capacity.”
The two-day summit was organised by the Ministry of Health, to review progress and lessons learnt in the fight against malnutrition. In 2009, President Paul Kagame highlighted malnutrition as a key national priority.
His call to action resulted from the active identification and treatment of more than 63,000 cases of moderate malnutrition and 17,000 cases of severe acute malnutrition. This later led to the first National Nutrition Summit and the subsequent development of district plans to eliminate malnutrition.
Today, all the 30 districts have such plans, but the challenge, according to Alipui, is to integrate nutrition within the district’s overall development plan, devoid of separate plans to solely promote nutrition.
Alipui added that prevention of malnutrition and stunting in children requires policies, programmes, interventions and social change that extend beyond the health sector.