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370,000 CHILDREN AFFECTED

Seven counties get Sh250 million ready-to-eat food

Mandera, Wajir, Garissa, Isiolo, Tana River, Kilifi, Lamu and Mombasa benefit.

In Summary

• RUTF is high energy, fortified ready-to-eat food suitable for treatment of severely malnourished children.

• Typical primary ingredients for RUTF include peanuts, oil, sugar, milk powder and vitamin and mineral supplements.

Health PS Susan Mochache receives donations at Afya House on June 24, 2020.
RELIEF: Health PS Susan Mochache receives donations at Afya House on June 24, 2020.
Image: MAGDALINE SAYA

Seven counties with a high burden of malnutrition will receive therapeutic food worth Sh250 million.

They are Mandera, Wajir, Garissa, Isiolo, Tana River, Kilifi, Lamu and Mombasa.

The 40,000 cartons of ready-to-use-therapeutic food (RUTF) were donated to the Health ministry by Action Against Hunger through funding from Sheikh Al-Thani Foundation.

RUTF is high energy, fortified ready-to-eat food suitable for treatment of severely malnourished children.

Typical primary ingredients for RUTF include peanuts, oil, sugar, milk powder and vitamin and mineral supplements.

Despite Kenya making significant progress in reducing the prevalence of malnutrition among children under five years of age, there exists geographical and social demographic variations in the severity of malnutrition.

Counties in the arid and semi-arid areas record persistently high levels of acute malnutrition.

Data from the ministry shows that currently almost 370,000 children aged between six and 59 months and 78,328 pregnant and lactating women in Asals and urban slums require treatment for acute malnutrition.

The data further shows that stunting has reduced from 35 per cent in 2008 to 26 per cent in 2014, underweight from 16 per cent to 11 per cent, and wasting from six to four per cent over the same period.

“The impact of malnutrition on several sectors amplifies the need for multisectoral, multi-agency and multidisciplinary approaches in addressing the causes of malnutrition,” Health PS Susan Mochache said.

“The ministry is implementing the multisectoral Kenya Nutrition Action Plan 2018-2022 which outlines priority interventions in promoting good nutrition and addressing the persistent acute malnutrition.”

Mochache said scaling up of integrated management of acute malnutrition in addition to strengthening nutrition commodities supply chains are among the priority strategies.

In recognition of the importance of these lifesaving commodities, the ministry has included nutrition commodities in the Kenya Essential Medical List 2019 to enable Kemsa procure and stock them and facilitate easy access by county governments, the PS said.

The ministry has also initiated discussions with the National Treasury on sustainable measures for strategic programmes that are currently funded by development partners.

Health PS Susan Mochache flags off the donations to the seven high-burden counties at Afya House, Nairobi, on June 24, 2020.
Health PS Susan Mochache flags off the donations to the seven high-burden counties at Afya House, Nairobi, on June 24, 2020.
Image: MAGDALINE SAYA

“In the recent past, the country has experienced challenges with nutrition commodities supplies due to the changing donor landscape,” Mochache noted.

The PS reiterated that the donation will go a long way in scaling up integrated management of acute malnutrition in the target counties.

The PS said the Covid-19 pandemic has negatively affected the country and the world at large in many areas including nutrition due to loss of livelihoods for many people.

“Therefore, this is a timely gesture to address not only the existing gap but also the additional burden because of Covid-19."

Edited by Henry Makori