NAIVASHA, Kenya Jul 8 – The European union together with the Ministry of Health and partners gathered in Naivasha for a two-day workshop to discuss how to improve the nutritional status in Kenya.
The workshop brought together representatives from the National government and First Ladies from the Counties of Kwale, Siaya, Homa Bay and West Pokot.
The European Union is investing approximately Sh2.7 billion in nutrition specific interventions with Sh605 million supporting seven projects being carried out in Mombasa, West Pokot, Siaya (two projects), Homa Bay (2) and Migori, with a focus on maternal and child nutrition.
The projects are being implemented by civil society organizations together with health authorities at the county level.
Gladys Mugambi, Head of Nutrition and Dietetics Unit in the Ministry of Health pointed out that tackling malnutrition requires a multi-sectoral approach.
“Cooperation, coordination and partnerships are essential to achieve success in addressing all forms of malnutrition and the need to scaling up nutrition,” said Mugambi.
The Kenya Demographic and Health Survey, 2014 showed that 26 percent of Kenyan children were stunted, 11 percent were underweight and 4 percent wasted.
While acknowledging the significant progress that Kenya has made through the implementation of Vision 2030 Medium Term Plans, Mugambi stressed that malnutrition is amongst the biggest threats to the realization of the Vision.
“One in four children suffers from chronic malnutrition which hinders socio-economic development and the potential to reduce poverty. It is therefore essential that nutrition is prioritised in the national development programs and strategies,” she said.
According researches done, nationally one-quarter of women aged 15-49 are overweight or obese. This condition is largely associated with non-communicable dietary diseases such as hypertension and diabetes mellitus.
Other nutritional conditions of concern among women include micronutrient deficiency which also increases the risk of complications in pregnancy.
The Global Nutrition Report 2016 released on June 14 calls for all governments, agencies, Parliaments, civil society organisations, donors and business to ensure that future nutrition commitments address all forms and combinations of malnutrition including stunting, wasting, micronutrient deficiencies, obesity, overweight, and nutrition-related non-communicable diseases.
First Lady Margaret Kenyatta is the Patron of nutrition as part of her Beyond Zero Campaign in reducing maternal and child death. Several County First Ladies are also nutrition champions who are playing a key role in advocating for the importance of addressing malnutrition and advocating for inclusion of budget lines for nutrition in their respective counties.
EU Head of Social and Environment Section, Dr Hjordis Ogendo said the focus of EU is support to the government on improving the nutrition and health status of women and children by engaging various actors at all levels including the national and county leadership, which will lead to increased understanding and political commitment to nutrition at county level.
Dr Ogendo urged the actors to be steadfast in charting the course for better nutrition since it is related to improved food production, greater food security, diversified diets and better infant, child and maternal health.
“Good nutrition contributes to stronger immune systems, safer pregnancy and childbirth, lowers the risk of non-communicable diseases and enhances longevity and improved access to water and adequate sanitation,” Dr Ogendo added.