Child nutrition in Taita Taveta County has taken a turn for the better following the involvement of Community Health Volunteers (CHVs).
In a survey conducted by the Kenya National Nutrition Action Plan in the county at the end of November 2013, child nutrition statistics in Taita Taveta were on the lower side of the national average score.
According to that survey, the minimum dietary diversity among children in the age bracket of 6-23 months was 23.5 per cent. On the other hand, stunting rates among children in the age group 6-59 months stood at 27 per cent.
However, those bleak statistics have since improved according to figures by the county’s nutritionist. In the figures, nutrition diversity for children under five years has gone up to 44 per cent. Child stunting rates also registered a big drop to 11.8 per cent.
Speaking during a recent nutrition campaign in Wundanyi, the county lead nutritionist, Pauline Mugo heaped praise on CHVs, who have been the most important cogs in the renewed child nutrition drives that have yielded the impressive statistics.
“We’re doing well in the child nutrition front and thanks to the indefatigable efforts of our CHVs, who have gone out of their way to reach the remotest population in our county,” said madam Mugo.
CHVs, an initiative by the National government’s Ministry of Health (MoH), was born out of the need to avail health services through penetrating the remote and marginalized areas around the country.
In Taita Taveta, CHVs have been using the Positive Deviance Hearth Plus (PDH+) model to encourage and support behavioral and social change among parents.
In 2021, child malnutrition in the county according to data gathered by CHVs is at 33%, meaning that in every three children under five years, one is malnourished.
With the help of the versatile VHCs, the county in partnership with the national government and other domestic and global partners hopes to end child malnutrition by 2022 through food security, diversification of food crops, early health interventions, and proper maternal and child education.
By Arnold Linga Masila