Rwanda has registered tremendous progress in bringing down the rate of stunting in children under five years of age from 51 per cent in 2005 to 44 per cent currently, the Minister for Health, Dr Agnes Binagwaho, has said.
Binagwaho was speaking at the opening of the Food and Nutrition Summit in Kigali yesterday. She said the progress has been possible due to the holistic approaches that brought together various ministries in the social cluster for necessary interventions.
“We have invested a lot of time and resources to bring down the rate of malnutrition and related illnesses in the country. We realised the importance of using holistic approaches that bring on board as many stakeholders as possible. We have made a link between agriculture, education and gender to ensure that the general population is well involved in dealing with malnutrition,” she said.
The minister noted the role played by the development partners and the consolidation of efforts through the social cluster ministries, saying Rwanda was in position to beat the Africa Union Targets of 10 per cent.
“We have initiatives in place to promote the consumption of a balanced diet among young children, pregnant women and lactating women. “The initiatives have been accelerated with the launch of “1,000 days campaign” by the Prime Minister. The campaign calls upon Rwandans to cherish the first 1,000 days period right from pregnancy through to the first two years of a child’s life,” Minister Binagwaho said.
The Global Coordinator of the scale up Nutrition Movement, Dr David Nabarro, commended Rwanda’s multi-stakeholder approach employed to scale up nutrition.
“Rwanda has reduced the malnutrition rate significantly. This is attributed to the development of a policy framework where the national food and nutrition plan is aligned to the objectives of the economic development and poverty reduction,” Nabarro said.
He further noted that the government is promoting multi-sectoral actions to scale up nutrition.
The African Union’s Commissioner for social affairs, Mustafa Sadiki, said it was important to prioritise agriculture that has been recognised as the bedrock in improving nutrition.
He commended Girinka project, (one cow per household initiative), saying it contributes to sustainable malnourishment eradication practices.
Unicef’s representative to Rwanda, Noala Skinner, said development partners were together with Rwanda in its efforts to improve the livelihood for its citizens.
“Experience shows that working together will lead to stronger and sustainable results in the fight against malnutrition,” she said.
She said the ongoing 1,000 days campaign seeks to raise awareness on the fight against malnutrition.
The national conference under the theme; “Promoting the first 1,000 days to prevent child stunting” brings together national, regional and international participants, including policy leaders and technocrats from various organisations.