As the country is marking the World Breastfeeding Week, Medics in Kajiado are worried concerning the high number of children under 5 years of age being admitted in the Sub County hospitals due to malnutrition.
According to the Kajiado County Deputy Director for Preventive and Promotive Health Dr Lydia Kilowua, 331 inpatient admission cases of malnutrition were recorded in the county in 2021 for children ages 6-59 months while 62 cases were reported for children under 6 months.
Low uptake of exclusive breastfeeding and recommended complementary feeding and low coverage in intake of Vitamin A supplementation have been cited as major causes.
Kajiado East Sub County reported the highest number of inpatient admission with 148 cases for children over 6 months and 24 cases for children under 6 months.
“At the Kitengela Sub County hospital, children admitted with malnutrition cases are reportedly high unlike the other sub counties hospitals which brings the question of exclusive breastfeeding,” said Kilowua.
She attributes the high numbers in Kajiado East to the large population in the area and the presence of flower farms which are the dominant employment avenues in the area.
Mothers working in the flower farms as casual labourers have no exclusive places for breastfeeding in the workplace neither do they have refrigerators to store the milk once they express it.
Most of the mothers also do not have alternative sources of livelihood thus report to work within a month of giving birth to secure their jobs living the infants at the day cares.
In 2019, a day care assessment was done by the County Health Department to understand the nature of childcare environment, nutrition and child care services provided.
An assessment of 58 daycares in Kajiado North and East was done. According to the report, half of the child care facilities did not have adequate water and soap for hand washing.
The children also had no expressed milk left by their mothers but were mostly fed with grain starchy foods, legumes and nuts, Vitamin A fruits and vegetables cow’s milk, fresh foods, eggs and others.
Kilowua notes that there is an urgent need for the County Government of Kajiado to provide a legal framework that sets standards that ensures the overall wellbeing of a young child under the age of four years is highly protected including but not limited to putting in place a county legislation that will provide for the management, recognition, registration, licensing and inspection of child care facilities operating within the county to get rid of the existence of informal and unregulated child care centres in the county.
To address the challenges, the County Departments of Education and Health Services have come up with the Kajiado County Child Care Policy 2022 & The Kajiado County Child Care Facilities Bill, 2022.
The two departments will be the lead departments for the implementation of the policy and the Bill in collaboration with the multisector team and other stakeholders to ensure its successful implementation.
By Diana Meneto