Rwanda launches multiple micronutrient supplementation programme for pregnant women

Kigali, Rwanda, 17 January 2024.Rwanda has introduced antenatal multiple micronutrient supplementation (MMS) for pregnant women with the aim of improving maternal nutritional status and further reducing the risk of stunting and other adverse birth outcomes.

The launch, where pregnant women received the MMS, took place on 17 January at Kabaya Hospital in the Kabaya sector of Ngororero District.

Despite remarkable progress, a high stunting rate of (33%) stunting remains public health challenge, anaemia among childbearing women (13%), anaemia among pregnant women (25%), Low birthweight (2.7%) , Neonatal mortality – the last mile challenge – (17.5%) and a maternal mortality rate of 203 per 100,000 births.

In his remarks at the event, Dr Sabin Nsanzimana, Minister of Health, said that the newly introduced MMS contains 15 essential nutrients, which is a significant increase from the previous formulation which contained only two nutrients.

Introducing MMS will break all the aforementioned challenges including intergenerational cycle of malnutrition. Latest evidence indicates that MMS can Reduce the number of infants born with low birth weight (LBW) by 12%, Reduce preterm births by 4 to 8%, Reduce the number of small for gestational age (SGA) newborn infants by 3 to 8%, Reduce the number of stillbirths by 5%, and reduce the overall 6-month infant mortality by 7%. This is waht makes this introduction of MMS a unique opportunity for low-cost high impact opportunity.

The Minister of Health called on all Rwandans to join the fight against stunting. He praised Ngororero District for achieving a 10% reduction in stunting over the past six months.

Julianna Lindsey, UNICEF Rwanda Country Representative, expressed enthusiasm for UNICEF's involvement, stating that UNICEF is delighted to join hands in this vital initiative, dedicated to enhancing the health and nutrition of mothers and children in Rwanda.

Lambert Dushimimana, Governor of the Western Province, recognised stunting as a challenge that affects the cognitive abilities and energy levels of the country's children.

The country is committed to tackle stunting, and the goal is to reduce the 33 per cent rate to below 19 per cent by 2025.

The initiative will be implemented in seven districts in Rwanda with high rates of stunting as well as maternal and infant mortality.

Among other activities, the Minister of Health inaugurated the dissemination of the National Nutrition Guideline for School-Aged Children and Adolescents, conducted anaemia screening and anthropometric measurements for adolescents, and planted fruit trees at Kabaya Primary School.

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