Stunted growth cases drop in Rwanda thanks to breastfeeding

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The number of Rwandan children suffering from stunted growth due to malnutrition has dropped in the last five years, according to the country’s health ministry.

Dr. Anicet Nzabonimpa, an official in charge family health said that the figures dropped from 47 percent in 2010 to 38 percent, as a result of women upholding breast feeding, and increased community involvement in good feeding practices.

Nzabonimpa made the revelation during the launch of Rwanda Annual Breastfeeding Week which kicked off in Rutare sector, Gicumbi district Monday 24.

“This reduction shows that residents have good feeding practices, and an example is in Gicumbi district which has showed significant change in stunted growth cases from eight to two percent in five years” Nzabonimpa said.

The week will be celebrated countrywide under the global theme ‘Let’s Make it Work,’ focusing on appropriate breastfeeding and balanced diet.

In Rwanda, the numbers of Rwandan mothers exclusively breast feeding babies for the first six months has increased from 85 percent to 87 percent between 2010 and 2015.

Government officials say the increase in breastfeeding is partly attributed to the new government policy that allow working mothers to take up to three months of maternity leave, and setting up breast feeding rooms at work places, initiatives that are aimed at encouraging breast feeding

The 2014-2015 Demographic Health Survey shows that 77% of Rwandan households have food security, but there is still prevalence of stunted growth and underweight among children under 2.

The ministry of health says that Rwandan media could be an asset to enhance breastfeeding and balanced diet among Rwandans, and thus over 30 journalists have been trained in exclusive breastfeeding practices with intent to raise awareness through their respective platforms, during the month long campaign that ends on August 28th.

“If media takes the lead in educating families about the many benefits of breastfeeding and what a balanced diet is comprised of, for sure malnutrition will be eradicated in Rwanda,” says Alex Mucumbitsi, the ministry’s expert trainer on breast feeding.

Sterie Musabyimana, a mother of one, in Muko sector, Gicumbi district says that acquiring training on breastfeeding is vital in educating breastfeeding mothers.

“Most stunted growth can be caused by illiteracy. Some mothers don’t know how many times a child should be breastfeed, they spend less time with the child, and don’t know the appropriate diets, even when the food is available” Musabyimana said.