By Lorraine Anyango.
Nutritionists in Kisumu County have raised concerns over the appropriateness and quality of food and medicine donated during emergencies.
While appreciating pharmaceutical companies and others that give aid during emergencies, they pointed out that it’s important to donate what would save the lives of children during emergencies.
“Whatever food we give should be age-appropriate, formula milk donated during emergencies should not be for breastfeeding children, instead the mothers should be fed, so they can have milk for their young ones,” Ms Moniya Oyanga Wanjir, Kisumu Central Nutrition Coordinator said.
She said that often the supplies are insufficient and most donations have a short expiry period adding that if the mother is alive, she should be supported to continue breastfeeding especially if the child is less than six months despite the occurrence of emergencies.
While emphasizing the importance of exclusive breastfeeding she called on those giving interventions during emergencies not to give formula milk to children under six months if they were on breast milk before the emergency, she advised donors and philanthropists to seek segregated data on those affected to inform the kind of intervention to be administered accordingly.
She said victims of calamities are clustered by age, adding that the data can be used to inform the type of interventions and the feeding needs.
Ms.Wanjir was making a presentation during an ongoing Maternal Infants and Young Child Nutrition in Emergency (MIYCN-e) training for nutritionists, Agri-nutritionist, nurses, and public health officers in Kisumu.
The training wouldn’t have come at a better time, than now when floods are claiming lives and causing wanton destruction of property, and Kisumu has vulnerable spots prone to flooding.
The training is facilitated by the Ministry of Health (MOH) and Kenya Red Cross Society with support from The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF). The trainers in this progarme are Mrs Angeline Korir and Mr Daniel Kimathi.
During the training, the attendees were sensitized on the MIYCN-e-assessment to be carried out during emergencies to understand the impact of MIYCN practices, determine the most at risk during emergencies, and assess the needs for MIYCN-e interventions.
The assessment carried out also informs strategic and operational decisions as well as availing information for the most effective measures and programming methods.
The assessment is also done to inform advocacy, support resource mobilization, establish MIYCN baseline data, and evaluate program effectiveness.
Assessments can be conducted, before an emergency, at the onset of an emergency, in changing situations, and during intervention implementation.
The MIYCN-e-assessment gives alerts to inappropriate interventions and opportunities to work with other sectors including the same sources as pre-crisis, media, funding appeals, and social media, it aids humanitarian situation reports as well as assessment reports from other clusters.
The assessment also informs evidence-based decision-making in the early stages of a humanitarian response, it provides an understanding of how humanitarian needs vary across different affected groups.
It identifies gaps that may exist between needs and local or national capacity to respond as well as identify further detailed information needs.
Early MIYCN-e assessment seeks factors that indicate infants and young children are at increased or significant risk, warranting further investigation. It finds out whether the distribution of infant formula, milk products, bottles, and teats is being carried out during emergencies.
It also seeks information on mothers reporting breastfeeding difficulties including stopping breastfeeding due to the crisis, infants under six months who are not breastfed, and increased diarrhoea in infants under 12 months.
It also seeks information on insufficient food for complementary feeding in the markets, food aid provided, and mothers reporting difficulties feeding their children.