Rwanda: Ur Students in Campaign to Fight Stunting in Burera

Students from the University of Rwanda (UR)’s School of Public Health have started a three-day campaign in Burera District in a bid to increase community’s awareness about the benefits of healthy nutrition.

According to the Public Health Students Association, the integrated campaign will also focus on how to improve domestic sanitation and indoor air quality in order “to prevent adverse impacts on maternal and child health and to fight all forms of malnutrition.”

The School of Public Health is one of the departments that make up UR’s College of Medicine and Health Sciences (CMHS).

“We have chosen Burera because it is one of the districts with a high rate of child stunting,” Didier Yves Umwungerimwiza, a lecturer at UR’s School of Public Health and the coordinator of the campaign told The New Times on Tuesday, January 11.

“Moreover, we’ve worked with the district in previous partnerships. This time the authorities have also told us that disasters sometimes lead to the problems facing community’s health and sanitation, and that will be part of our message.”

He said they will conduct the campaign in Nemba and Cyeru sectors and that residents will also be tipped on how to keep latrines clean.

Umwungerimwiza added that the public health outreach activities are informed by research conducted by the university in different districts countrywide.

Experts say that child stunting results from malnutrition. According to the latest figures from the National Institute of Statistics of Rwanda (NISR), child stunting in Burera District was at 41.6 per cent in 2020.

The Northern Province has also stepped up the fight against stunting in all its five districts, including Burera. The local authorities say they want to reduce the rate of child stunting from 41 per cent to 19 per cent within the next two years.

Although it is hard for some households to afford a nutritious diet, officials say, others have enough foodstuffs but they do not prepare a balanced diet due to limited knowledge and poor mindset.

According to the NISR’s latest Demographic and Health Survey (DHS), the national rate of stunting stood at 33 per cent in 2020. The government’s target is to reduce stunting to 19 per cent in 2024.

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