The government has been urged to fast track fortification of maize flour in the country to save vulnerable children from malnutrition.
A Nutritionist and Egerton University Lecturer, Dr. Maureen Cheserek said the nutritional health of children from poor backgrounds is currently a matter of concern, owing to the clarion call by the government for people to remain at home and be safe, meaning of majority of their care givers, who depend on menial jobs were not being hired due to job scarcity.
Dr.Cheserek noted that children get malnourished if fed on starch daily, citing low income homes where children would drink black tea in the morning with leftover Ugali and at lunchtime again they are fed Ugali and Sukuma wiki.
For children, that’s a very unhealthy diet since their growing bodies require a balanced diet with sufficient proteins, she added.
However, the nutritionist said if the maize flour was fortified with vitamin A and C, it would make the whole difference in the children’s nutritional value, even when eaten daily.
She urged the government to implement the brilliant idea of mixing the maize flour with millet and sorghum to improve its nutritional significance, since to majority of the Kenyans, Ugali remains their best meal.
Last year, the government suggested guidelines on how to improve the popular Ugali by fortifying it and improving its nutritional significance by mixing it with other traditional flours.
Meanwhile, some the children got nutritional value from the meals they were provided with in their schools, including Uji mixed with milk, together with a mixture of beans and maize that gave them the first-rate protein.
However, the covid-19 pandemic has forced the closure of schools countrywide. Dr. Cheserek suggested that food in school stores be distributed to vulnerable families.
By Veronica Bosibori