Campaign against malnutrition starts at grassroots level
The ministry of health, in collaboration with the ministry of local government, has started a nationwide campaign to fight malnutrition especially among children.
The campaign to fight malnutrition will be implemented alongside other strategies like the fight against malaria and diseases caused by poor hygiene.
Dr. Agnes Binagwaho, the permanent secretary in the ministry of health, said that the campaign will be implemented at village level and that food will be provided to malnourished infants through health service systems.
The ministry of health believes that the fight against malnutrition, which is part of the national nutrition policy, is very important if the country wants to achieve the millennium development goals which include reducing child deaths by two thirds by 2015 and eradicating hunger.
“This is in line with decentralizing the Millennium Development Goals MDGs where people should be able to access essential necessities such as health, education, food and shelter,” Binagwaho said. “People at the grassroots level have to understand what it is meant by MDG and be part of it, if they are to be achieved.”
The campaign to identify at malnourished children started on May 11 may and was to be completed in one week, with officials at all levels of local administration—from villages to provinces—playing a role in the exercise. Based on these data, a three-month program will be implemented to treat them.
Binagwaho remarked that young as well as old people are malnourished not because they lack food but of ignorance about what constitutes a healthy diet. Therefore, the program also aims at raising awareness about which nutrients people need as well as to identify those that ca not afford food and who will be helped accordingly.
The permanent secretary pointed out that malnutrition itself might not kill, but it makes people vulnerable to killer diseases such as malaria.
“That is why we have decided to eradicate malnutrition in Rwanda, starting with children as they are the most vulnerable,” Binagwaho said, adding that adults will also be brought on board but that the initial focus would be on infants because they are unable to cater for themselves.
One factor which contributes significantly to malnutrition is the high birthrate in the country, resulting in some families having too many mouths to feed. Therefore, the ministry of health also aims to step up its sensitization on family planning.