When I think about “improving health care”, I often think about making sure there are enough doctors and nurses, enough medicine, good hospitals, etc. Rarely do I think about nutrition. But for 280 people trained in nutrition support in Burundi during a PWRDF/CIDA (Canadian International Development Agency) joint project with the Diocese of Bujumbura, nutrition was a key to health care.
The training provided to these nutrition educators (made up of nurses, farm leaders, community health workers, and mères lumières—committed and respected women from the communities) focused on the prevention of malnutrition, the importance of food diversity in a daily diet, how to use local foods to prevent malnutrition, and more.
Godelieve Nimfasha, a married teacher and mother of five, has benefited from the nutrition program. Her children were falling sick at an alarming rate. Despite several visits to clinics in the region, it took a visit from the nutrition team to diagnose her children with moderate malnutrition.
The nutrition team worked with her for 12 days, helping her to prepare nutritious meals and explaining how to present a balanced diet to her family. Godelieve’s family is one of hundreds that have started to grow tomatoes, onions, eggplant, amaranth to incorporate into their basic diet of cassava porridge and fish.
“Until I met the nutrition team, no one had ever mentioned the importance of good nutrition in achieving and maintaining an excellent state of health,” she said.