The Minister for Health, Dr Diane Gashumba, has urged families to ensure balanced diet so as to avoid child stunting.
Dr Gashumba, who was on Tuesday launching an outreach campaign on hygiene, nutrition and modern family planning in Nyabihu, said it is pitiful that the district is experiencing high stunting rates at 59 per cent among children as shown by the 2015 Demographic and Health Survey, despite being one of the food baskets of the country.
She urged residents to change their mindset and get rid of stunting since they have all it takes.
The 10-day campaign involves education on key health issues in a bid to help residents live better and healthier lives while reducing malnutrition and stunting among children below five.
“Almost everything needed for a healthy and balanced diet is grown in Nyabihu District from proteins, vegetables and other nutritious foods. I think the problem lies in inadequate knowledge of preparing that food,” she said.
The minister called for close collaboration between community health workers, local government leaders and health workers to sensitise the population to change their mindsets.
Stunting not only affects a child’s physical development but also mental health with consequences on their school performance and overall development, according to health experts.
Theoneste Uwanzwenuwe, the mayor of Nyabihu, agreed that little effort was made in the past that led to high figures of children with stunting and malnutrition but committed to reverse the trend.
“We are now committed to reducing cases of stunting and malnutrition by doing our best to involve all the population. We will intensify existing interventions such as village cooking demonstration, preparing kitchen garden for each family and sensitisation though Umuganda and other meetings,” he said.
During Tuesday’s campaign launch, children were given de-worming pills.
Officials also encouraged residents to develop the culture of washing their hands to ensure hygiene.
Apart from curbing stunting, the campaign also seeks to educate residents to always seek timely treatment for children with malnutrition signs.