The government has received a total of 40,000 cartons of Ready to Use Therapeutic Food (RUTF) worth Sh 250 .5 million (USD 2.35 Million) donated by Action against Hunger (ACF).
RUTF for treatment of acute malnutrition will be distributed in Mandera, Wajir, Garissa, Tana River, Lamu, Kilifi, Mombasa and Isiolo counties.
Currently, close to 370,000 children aged between 6 and 59 months and 78,000 pregnant and lactating women in Arid & Semi-Arid Lands (ASAL) and urban informal settlements require treatment for acute malnutrition.
Receiving the donation at Afya house yesterday, Health Principal Secretary Susan Mochache said the Covid-19 pandemic has negatively affected the country and world at large in many areas including nutrition due to loss of livelihoods for many people.
“This is a timely gesture to address not only the existing gap but also the additional burden because of Covid-19,” she said.
The donation she added will go a long way in scaling up integrated management of acute malnutrition in the target counties which have a high burden of malnutrition.
The Ministry, Mochache noted is implementing the multi-sectoral Kenya Nutrition Action Plan (2018-2022) which outlines priority interventions in promoting good nutrition and addressing the persistent acute malnutrition.
“Scaling up of integrated management of acute malnutrition in addition to strengthening nutrition commodities supply chain are among the priority strategies,” the PS said.
However, she added that in the recent past, the country has experienced challenges with nutrition commodities supplies due to the changing donor landscape and it’s this recognition of the importance of the lifesaving commodities that the Ministry has included nutrition commodities in the Kenya Essential Medical List, 2019 to enable KEMSA to 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.
According to Mochache, the impact of malnutrition on several sectors amplifies the need for multisectoral, multi-agency and multidisciplinary approaches in addressing its causes
Action Against Hunger Regional Director Hajir Maalim said his organisation is continuously supporting the government’s effort by providing the much-needed treatment for malnourished boys and girls in the country through their ongoing programmes.
Over the past decade, Kenya has made significant progress in reducing the prevalence of malnutrition among children under five years of age with stunting reducing from 35 percent in 2008 to 26 percent in 2014, underweight from 16 percent to 11 percent , and wasting from 6 percent to 4 percent over the same period.
However, there exist geographical and social demographic variations in the severity of malnutrition, with counties in the Arid and Semi-Arid areas recording persistent high levels of acute malnutrition.
By Wangari Ndirangu