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UK donates ready to use therapeutic food

The UK Government has donated 31,500 cartons of therapeutic food to the drought affected counties in Kenya.

The ready to use therapeutic food will enable treatment of over 31,000 children with severe malnutrition in the most affected counties.

Speaking today while he represented the Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe during the flagging off of the food to drought affected counties at Afya House in Nairobi, Health Chief Administrative Secretary (CAS), Dr Rashid Aman, said the Government is grateful to the UK Government and UNICEF for the generous donation and overall support in efforts to assist drought affected communities in the country.

Flagging off of the Ready to Use Therapeutic Feeds (RUTF) to drought affected counties at Afya House in Nairobi.

Dr. Aman noted that the consignment of Ready to Use Therapeutic Feeds (RUTF) was at an estimated cost of approximately Sh. 215 million adding that it is a significant contribution to the current health and nutrition sector drought response plan.

“This comes at a critical time when about 942,500 children aged between 6-59 months in the Arid and Semi-Arid Lands are in dire need of treatment for acute malnutrition as a result of the drought,” said Dr. Aman.

As a result, he said, the number of people facing high levels of acute food insecurity increased to 4.1 million up from the 3.5 million initially projected over the period of March to June 2022, an equivalent increase of 17 per cent.

He highlighted that it is not only children that are affected by malnourishment but mothers as well.

“About 134,000 pregnant and lactating women are acutely malnourished and also need urgent treatment. The acute malnutrition situation is expected to continue to deteriorate and may require blanket supplementary feeding for all children 6-59 months in the most affected ASAL counties,” Dr. Aman added.

He stated that the country has prepared a nutrition preparedness and response plan costing approximately Sh. 5.3 billion, 80 per cent of which will be committed to procurement of essential nutrition commodities for both severe and moderate acute malnutrition.

He noted that the lifesaving nutrition commodity was procured by UNICEF through a donation by the UK Government in support of the Government of Kenya’s response to the ongoing drought.

Speaking during the flag off, Director General, Humanitarian and Development at the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office, Nick Dyer, said the UN estimates that 4.1 million people are suffering from the impact of the drought and are in need of support.

“I have just visited Wajir where I met with families affected by the drought. We know climate change is driving these worsening droughts. The cartons of therapeutic food we have flagged off today, will be used to treat severely malnourished children in drought-affected communities in Wajir, Mandera, Isiolo and Turkana,” said Dyer.

He noted that Kenya remains a key strategic partner in the region and expressed his joy to continue with the unwavering support in the drought-affected areas.

In her remarks, UNICEF Kenya Deputy Representative, Jean Lokenga said the therapeutic foods will undoubtedly save the lives of children affected by the drought, terming it as one of the worst seen in decades.

“In addition to these supplies, the significant support from the UK Government and our collaboration with the Government of Kenya, has helped us facilitate a response that enables early detection and referral of malnourished children through mass screening in drought affected counties and reached over 239,000 children. However, due to the severity of the crisis, malnutrition rates remain high, well above emergency levels. More needs to be done to support affected communities,” she said.

By Catherine Muindi

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