By Elias Hakizimana
Stunting plight is among the biggest burdens of Rwanda, and the Ministry of Health (MoH) says the main reason for this rampant malnutrition issue is parental irresponsibility, not food shortage.
These remarks were made by the Minister for Health, Dr. Diane Gashumba last evening during the presentation of 1000-day-programme for child and mother’s nutrition.
The recent statistics from Demographic and Health Survey (DHS) show that stuntingamong Rwandan children was reduced from 44 % in 2010 to 38 percent in 2015.
“Stunting is not a problem of food shortage, rather parents’ irresponsibility and poor mindset of parents to cater for their children [through providing them with nutritious and healthy diet],” Minister Gashumba said.
The ceremony was attended by various government officials led by the Minister of Health and United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) Representative [in Rwanda.]
The 1000-day-child and mothers’ nutrition programme is the Ministry’s initiative starting mother’s conception of a baby is to birth, to breastfeeding the newborn in first six months, and ensuring proper nutrition to the child until he/she is 2 years old.
UNICEF says that the initiative has yielded positive results since its inception in Rwanda in 2013 where it contributed enough in increasing skills on nutrition of under-five-year-children, pregnant and breastfeeding mothers, as well as pre-primary and primary younger children.
“Malnutrition/stunting remains a burden as many children are affected and we cannot say that these ones are from districts with poor agricultural yield. Many of them are from districts with good productive soil and with good rain season,” Gashumba told the media.
She explained that being stunted is not only affect the growth of a child physically to be shorter compared to their age, but also, the child can be mentally undermined when he/she was not well nourished from his/her mother’s womb until they turn 2.
“We are still having children accounting to 38 percent [of all children in the country] with stunting status, it is a big number and stunting is not only being short as Rwandans use to think, though, it also undermines the child’s mental health. Once affected, the child cannot develop his future, his/her education performance is weak, and [ as a result], he cannot do anything to help his/her family,” Gashumba said.
Despite a big cause of stunting remain parents’ irresponsibility, Gashumba recommends local government authorities to keep sensitizing citizens on food security and preparing meal rich in nutrients by following healthy recipes.
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