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The effects of household food practices and diseases prevalence on nutritional status of under-five children in Ruhango District, Rwanda

M Niyibituronsa
F Kyallo
C Mugo
S Gaidashova


Malnutrition in the Southern province of Rwanda is a significant public health concern. According to the Rwanda Demographic and Health Survey (RDHS) 2010, chronic malnutrition in children under 5 years was widespread 44% children having stunting (insufficient height for age), 11 % underweight (weight for age) and 3% wasting (weight for height). Ruhango district (Southern Rwanda) had the highest malnutrition prevalence (23.5%) in 2009. This study aimed to measure the prevalence of malnutrition among Ruhango children in 2012 and to identify relationship between comorbidities occurrence, food intake and their nutrition status. A multistage sampling was done across four hierarchical levels: district, sector, cell and village, where households (N=294) with children under five years were purposively selected to form the sampling units in which the survey was conducted. The study showed that Ruhango has improved in prevention of malnutrition as compared to 2010 study. However, stunting was still a problem with those aged between 24 and 35 months being most affected. Wasting did not affect large population of the target group. Better educated household members had less malnourished kids (3%) than those who did not attend school (12%). Co-morbidities occurrence was significantly higher in malnourished children (P = 0.006). Acute Respiratory Tract Infection had the highest occurrence (52%). The children reported to have been sick had significantly lower weight than those who were normal (P<0.05). Food intake (mean dietary diversity of 25%) was not adequate for most households and only few people took protein of high quality like meat and milk. Household food practices were tested at 95% confidence interval and this affected the nutrition status of children (P = 0.02). In households with mean dietary diversity above four food groups, only 2.17 % of children were underweight as compared to 18.18% those from households with mean dietary diversity below three. Thus, interventions to eliminate malnutrition should focus on household food diversification and disease prevention.

Key words: Prevalence, malnutrition, diseases, 24hr recall.