Analysis of risk factors that influence stunting among Rwandan children under the age of five
In East Africa, 39% of all children were stunted in 2016. Rwanda reported the second highest rate at 37.7%. Globally, deaths from malnutrition stand at 45% of child deaths, creating an economic handicap for all countries. According to the World Health Organization's (WHO) goal to reduce malnutrition by 3.9% per year, all countries must define appropriate strategies. Although related research has been conducted in Rwanda, the issue of malnutrition prevails. This study assesses stunting with multiple factors, with the aim of revealing the system-wide impact of food insecurity on malnutrition. Secondary data from the Rwanda Demographic and Health Survey (RDHS) 2014-2015 were used. Variables were classified into five categories, namely the community, environment, socio-development, media, and proximate factors. To assess the risk factors for stunting, a mixed-effect logistic regression was applied and an association between different factors and stunting was determined. The prevalence of stunting was 37.7%, the average was relatively still high, compared to the global prevalence of 21.3% in 2019, and the city of Kigali comprised the lowest prevalence (22.7%) while the highest prevalence was observed in the Western Province (44.6%). The place of residence and altitude were found to be statistically significant community and environmental factors. Wealth index and parental education level were considered socio-demographic risk factors. All media factors were associated with stunting and in proximate factors, the Body Mass Index (BMI) of the mother, duration of breastfeeding, age and weight of the child at birth, sex, and birth order were statistically significant factors. In addition, infection, diarrhoea, and parasitic infection were also associated with stunting. Ensuring sustainable food security in households should go hand in hand with all strategies for eliminating all forms of malnutrition since stunting is observed in most regions where there are cases of food insecurity. Educating children is key to reducing stunting since the parents need nutrition education to better take care of their children. Public policy throughout the country should aim to improve the living standards of people. Generally, all concerned institutions accompanied with policies to eradicate malnutrition and industries providing nutrients should be promoted.
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