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Drive to Promote Balanced Diet Gathering Pace

A 6-month campaign against the malnutrition, which was launched about a month ago, has been gathering pace.

For instance, on a visit to Gicumbi district in the Northern Province recently, Health Minister Agnes Binagwaho emphasized to officials the need to focus on behavior change to promote balanced diets in addition to anti-poverty interventions like the one-cow-per-family program, kitchen gardens, milk for students at school, one egg per child, and others.

“Adequate food and nutrition are a universal right and are essential for the physical, mental and emotional development of children as well as the quality of life for adults,” Binagwaho explained. “This is why the elimination of malnutrition among our children and pregnant women is a priority for the government this year.”

The Minister added that nutrition is also essential in increasing the efficacy of medication such as antiretroviral drugs, and that it plays a critical role in the strategies for the prevention, treatment and care of diseases.

Therefore, the government has established monthly screening and identification sessions of malnutrition for children under the age of 5 as well as pregnant and lactating women. It also ensures regular procurement of nutrition supplements.

Yet people are in the first place encouraged to ensure they obtain sufficient and balanced food, for example through small livestock such as goats, rabbits and chickens and the consumption of their products such as meat and eggs to improve protein intake. On top of that, the ministry of health in collaboration with the ministry of agriculture and livestock is providing seeds and promoting the growing of fruits and vegetables at the household level.

And according to Binagwaho, the consumption on macronutrient foods which include soya, groundnuts, mushrooms, sweet potato and other varieties which contain carotene, should be prioritized not only to people in villages but also for city dwellers who increasingly consume unhealthy products.

Alivera Mukabaramba, the State Minister in Charge Social Affairs at the ministry of local government, also insisted on the prevention of obesity and non-communicable diseases such as diabetes, high blood pressure or gout due to an unbalanced diet.

“Sometimes people living in the city tend to eat unhealthy food, thinking that they actually eat very well – things like chips, too much meat, salt and fat,” Mukabaramba explained. “And on top of that, some consume a lot of beer. That is a mentality which needs to be changed, because parents give the same kind of food to their children. People need to have a balanced diet which is very rich in vegetables, fruits and other vegetables containing proteins and calcium.”

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