Nutrition is a key sector for a country’s sustainable development. It contributes to achieving the Millennium Development Goals, to which Rwanda has committed itself as a member of the international community. Malnutrition in an individual or at the community level impacts negatively on the well-being of the individual as well as on the community’s development. Following the events of the 1990s, the nutritional situation of the population, in particular that of children under the age of five has worsened significantly. Nevertheless, the nutrition situation remains precarious as the national prevalence of protein-energy malnutrition and micronutrient deficiencies remain high contributing directly or indirectly to the high infant, child and maternal mortality in the country (MOH, 2005).
Malnutrition is the state of being poorly nourished. It is not merely a result of too little food, but of a combination of factors: insufficient protein, energy and micronutrients, frequent infections or disease, poor care and feeding practices, inadequate health services and unsafe water and sanitation. Malnutrition robs children of vital micronutrients that are essential to their growth and development, and makes them more susceptible to disease. Where it does not kill, malnutrition can leave permanent scars. It can leave a child physically and intellectually damaged and suffering from the consequences of a weakened immune system.
The most devastating impact of malnutrition is in the womb-when the foetus can fail to develop properly-and during the first years of a child’s life, when it can hamper his or her physical and mental development.
Worldwide, 55 million children under the age of five suffer from acute malnutrition and 19 million of these from the most serious type – severe acute malnutrition. Every year, 3.5 million children... [continues]
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