NAIROBI, October 31 – Parliamentarians have been urged to push for legislation that would ensure food security for Kenyans.
Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly Farah Maalim said on Thursday that malnutrition was contributing to the spread of diseases in the country. He advised legislators to root for improved food production in the country through devolved funds and the creation of incentives for farmers.
“With the inflation we have now, majority of Kenyans are probably doing with one meal, or even less, a day,” said Mr Maalim. “We‘ve not been able to feed our people because we had the wrong priorities and have failed our farmers.”
Mr Maalim spoke at a TB sensitisation workshop for Members of Parliament, where Public Health Minister Beth Mugo said increased food production would reduce such diseases as Tuberculosis (TB) which had been linked to malnutrition and poor living conditions in urban slums.
Mrs Mugo called on stakeholders to intensify efforts for TB intervention, which he said was wiping out the most productive age-group of between 15 and 34 years that constitutes 75 percent of new infections.
She said over nine million new cases of TB are reported to the World Health Organisation each year, resulting to over two million deaths annually. Kenya was last year positioned number 13 among heavily burdened nations with TB, when it reported 116,723 new cases during the year.
“This increase is mainly attributed to HIV infections and is a manifestation of poverty and all the social deprivations that go with it, including poor living conditions, malnutrition and over crowding, especially in slums,” Mrs Mugo said.
The Minister said the new strain of TB called the MBR-TB is increasingly becoming dangerous because it is resistant to many drugs and very expensive to treat.
According to her, it costs about Sh6, 000 to treat a patient suffering from the normal TB strain in six months, but it would cost a whooping Sh1.3 million to treat a single case of MBR-TB in 24 months.
All efforts to curb the spread of TB notwithstanding, Kenya’s situation has worsened and it is now ranked 11th in the world in TB mortality rate. This is because 72 people die daily from TB in Kenya.
She said TB accounts for almost 20 percent of deaths among people aged between 15 and 34 years and over 26 percent of preventable deaths.
TB is an infectious communicable bacterial disease known scientifically as Mycobacterium tuberculosis and it affects mostly the lungs but can also affect any part of the body.
It was first isolated in 1882 by German Physician Robert Koch who won a Nobel Price for the invention. It was declared a global emergency by World Health Organization in 1993 and an emergency in Africa in 2005.