Health

Search for reliable data to fight children malnutrition

A second round of mobilization for malnutrition screening in children under 5 in the provinces of municipal and rural Bujumbura has started this Wednesday. The repetition of the screening activities is intended to get reliable data to help address that serious issue.

: Emile Niyungeko explaining the plan of screening activities to provincial health and administrative officials in Gatumba.

: Emile Niyungeko explaining the plan of screening activities to provincial health and administrative officials in Gatumba.

Actors in the fight against malnutrition in children between 6 and 59 months old in municipal and rural Bujumbura have launched this Wednesday in Gatumba, Isale health district, the second round of mobilisation for screening activities. The repetition of the screening of the same target population is justified by the need for reliable data to assess the situation of malnutrition in the target population and to inform actions to uproot it. “This type of survey requires careful procedures so as to make judgment and take action based on reliable information. We will compare the results of the first screening round we did last June and the results of this second round to see whether they are consistent”, explained Emile Niyungeko, the coordinator of the screening activities.

Burundi is one of the countries most affected by malnutrition mainly due to the lack of food or balanced diet as explains Dr Vianney Ndayishimiye, Bujumbura provincial doctor. “For some, malnutrition is caused by the lack of food. Other families may have enough food, but they lack knowledge about balanced diet”, he says. A demographic health survey conducted in 2010 jointly by UNICEF and Burundi government found that 58% of children under 5 suffered from chronic malnutrition. The latter was severe in 5% of the children. In 2013, the government set the objective to reduce the malnutrition rate from 58% to 48% between 2013 and 2017. Last year, an official source reported that chronic malnutrition in children under 5 was at 49%.

According to Niyungeko, the ongoing rounds of screening are within the framework of a coordinated endeavour between the government through its National Integrated Programme of Diet and Nutrition (PRONIANUT), UNICEF that funds the project and World Relief that carries out concrete activities on the target population of eight provinces; namely municipal and rural Bujumbura, Cibitoke, Kirundo, Karuzi, Rutana, Makamba and Rumonge.

Niyungeko works for World Relief and is responsible for the training of trainers and the coordination of all the project activities in the provinces of municipal and rural Bujumbura.

Niyungeko explains that the mobilization that started at the level of provincial health and administrative officials will be done in a descending order down to agents who will go from home to home doing the screening of the children.

The screening activities proper of this second round will start on Tuesday, 18 October and end on Thursday, 20 October, this year.

Malnourished children will be given appropriate aid. “In practice, children found with severe malnutrition are referred to nearby health centres where they are given Ready-to-Use Therapeutic Food and, in some cases, some medicines. Parents, especially mothers of children found with non-severe malnutrition are taught how to use the food they have in order to provide their children with a balanced diet”, says Dr Ndayishimiye.

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