Africa-Press – Rwanda. Despite the pressing timeline, officials from the Rwanda Biomedical Center (RBC) and related institutions maintain optimism about meeting the 2024 stunting reduction targets.
The most recent survey conducted in 2020 showed that stunting stands at 33 percent among children under five in Rwanda. However, the government aims to reduce this figure to 19 percent by next year.
In an interview, Aline Uwimana, the manager of the Maternal, Child, and Community Health Division at RBC, said the target can be met since there has been good investment in sensitisation aimed at improving nutrition.
Community Health Workers take measures of a child as at the event
“We think we can reach the targets working together, starting from the family to the national level,” she said.
In June, the government launched a two-year multi-sectoral plan to address stunting across all districts, with particular emphasis on areas with the highest prevalence, including Gicumbi, Burera, Kirehe, Gasabo, Musanze, Ngororero, Nyabihu, Rutsiro, Rubavu, and Nyamasheke.
This comprehensive plan seeks to accelerate existing interventions through proven activities such as reviewing and financing key child nutrition indicators monitored by Community Health Workers (CHWs).
It also aims to improve community attendance at antenatal care services and enhance the quality of nutrition counselling.
Additionally, the plan involves distributing eggs or chickens (for eggs) to low-income households and providing nutritious flour (Shishakibondo) to families in need.
Children were given milk during the event to RBC celebrate child health care week in Nyamashake on November 27. All Photos by Craish BAHIZI
Assumpta Ingabire, the Director General of the National Child Development Agency (NCDA), expressed optimism about the future, as she anticipated a significant reduction in stunting by the time a new survey is conducted in 2025.
She highlighted the ongoing work to sensitize citizens, especially regarding the crucial first 1,000 days of a child’s life.
The first 1,000 days, spanning from conception to a child’s second birthday, is a critical period for substantial growth and development of the brain, body, and immune system.
“What we will do is to continue sensitising the citizens, especially regarding the first 1,000 days of a child,” she noted.
She hopes stunting be reduced up to 10 percent in the near future, but noted that such requires concerted efforts from local administration units and citizens themselves.
Citizens call for more
While the government focuses on sensitization and providing nutritious food to needy families, some communities believe additional measures are necessary, particularly in addressing broader issues.
In media interviews, residents of Nyamasheke, a district with a high prevalence of stunting, stressed the need for improved infrastructure, specifically roads, to facilitate easier access to markets.
“Poor infrastructure hinders business and livelihoods. Sometimes, despite having the means to buy nutritious food, transportation to the marketplace is a significant obstacle,” said Jean Nyirambabazi, a mother of two living in Nyamasheke district.