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Physical and mental health for young children
Physical and mental health for young children

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6.1 Malnutrition in Rwanda: a low-income country

Rwanda is a small, land-locked African country where many children are affected by malnutrition.

A map of Africa, with a flag of Rwanda showing its position on the continent
Figure 6 Rwanda’s position in Africa

Activity 4 Battling malnutrition

Timing: 20 minutes

To learn more about the impact of malnutrition on children’s health, watch the video ‘Battling malnutrition’. As you watch the video, consider the following question:

What are the reasons given for malnutrition in Rwanda?

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Video 2 Battling malnutrition
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In Rwanda, as many as 80 per cent of children are underweight and as many as 33 per cent of deaths are linked to malnutrition.

The reasons given in the film to explain the reasons for these high numbers reflect the factors that influence children’s health that have been discussed in this course, in particular in Session 1.

The film explored how societal factors have contributed to the high levels of malnutrition in children. Such factors include the geography of the country, that is, it is small and densely populated with limited agricultural space to grow food. The country has also endured many years of conflict and war. Poverty isn’t the main reason given for the high levels of malnutrition in Rwanda, despite the fact it is a low-income country. The film states that ‘ignorance’ is one of the main reasons for the persistence of malnutrition. This is linked to the fact that education isn’t widely available, and when children do attend school, they aren’t able to concentrate and learn at school, and are more likely to be illiterate. Therefore, lack of education compounds the problems associated with malnutrition and poor health.

The content of this film highlights the difficulties that the people in Rwanda have in relation to providing nourishment to children, and many of the challenges outlined here are not faced in other countries, especially high-income ones such as England. However, many children experience dietary deficiency which contributes to poor health, and you will look at this in the following sections.