By Lorraine Anyango and Faith Lawino
The county government of Kisumu and the USAID ‘Advancing Nutrition’ project invited the local media to be part of the fight to end malnutrition.
The joinder included journalists from several media stations, Communication persons, social media activists, bloggers, digital content creators, print journalists, and policymakers.
The invite got the media to get training on how to report advocacy messages to enhance nutrition as well as the best channels to reach greater audiences.
The media plays a crucial part in packaging and passing information to several audiences. They act as the voice of the people and their contribution will greatly help in passing the right message about nutrition to the right audiences.
Nutrition and the ability to ensure that the body is supplied with all the necessary and mandatory nutrients seems simple but sometimes daunting, if food is just consumed to eliminate hunger and cravings.
A visit to any referral hospital will change your mind on the topic of nutrition and prove you wrong that your belief of always ‘ eating right’ is challenged. These hospital wards especially the children’s section are occupied by several malnourished children, and their lives and future, hang in the balance.
A quick sneak and you’ll observe pale children, weak, stunted, wasted, and babies with protruding bellies. One baby, in particular, you would notice is stunted. Its body is nothing short of visible bones, falling hair, a sad demeanor, and not forgetting, the not-so-obvious, its height. The baby is stunted( it is short for its age). Look at it and you will feel the pain of a mother. An ‘unhealthy baby!’.
The little creature, not even the toughest persona can survive dropping a tear. The story does not end there but is far-fetched to homes, especially in rural settings. In a humble family with no food to eat, children grow up malnourished, and they perform poorly in school. Picture a young mother who cannot fend for herself yet she is expectant.
The results are obvious, she will end up giving birth to a malnourished baby, disorienting down an entire generation. Malnutrition is a reaper and a killer of todays and future generations.
Malnutrition occurs when one does not have enough to eat, does not consume the right nutrients, or consumes certain nutrients in excess or little quantity. A saddening fact that most do not know is that being overweight or obese is also a form of malnutrition.
Nutrition hence has a direct relationship with child survival, physical and mental growth, learning capacity, adult productivity, and overall social and economic development. The triple burden of malnutrition in Kenya is characterized by the coexistence of undernutrition manifested by stunting, wasting, micronutrient deficiency, overweight, and obesity. These also include diet-related non-communicable diseases, such as hypertension, and diabetes, among others. Malnutrition is a great menace in the country and one county in particular that is striving to end this disaster is the county Government of Kisumu.
Kisumu County in conjunction with the USAID Advancing Nutrition project have efforts put in place to end malnutrition in the region. The County Nutrition Action Plan has taken a multi-sectoral approach to rendering Kisumu malnutrition free.
These departments which have come together to end malnutrition in the county include the health, agriculture, education, and social protection department. Malnutrition mainly affects children and women especially in the first 1000 days of life due to high nutrient requirements. Obesity and diet-related non-communicable diseases affect mainly women of reproductive age and adults in general. This war against malnutrition is to end the burden on health systems, support equity inclusion, and improve food security and greater environmental stability.
The effort to wear- off malnutrition in the county has had a lot of stakeholders getting involved including; mama county, and Dorothy Nyong’o. Mrs. Nyong’o has seen lots of nutrition drive initiatives across several areas in the county one being the provision of cone gardens in schools and hospitals. The multisectoral approach to end malnutrition has not ended but is expanding to include other vital areas. This approach is to combine ideas and efforts to eradicate malnutrition as fast as possible.
The county government of Kisumu has therefore allocated funds to help eradicate malnutrition through the school feeding programs to ensure that school-going children consume the right nutrients to grow healthy. The hospitals are also wired in a way to teach young mothers and pregnant women the right foods to take to prevent giving birth to malnourished babies. This is also a conclusive effort from the community health volunteers who champion at the grass root level.
Kisumu county government has also about 45 trained nutrition champions across to help drive a message on good nutrition to everyone, especially during the first 1000 days of a child’s life. Malnutrition is a real problem that affects both young and old and affects productivity in a country. Other activities carried out by the county as well as nutrition enthusiasts include; the introduction of meal programs in schools, the erection of breast-feeding centers, and the provision of cone gardens.
A malnutrition-free nation is a healthy nation. Everyone is urged to consume the right nutrients for proper growth and development and as well become nutrition champions in their levels and spaces. A stunted or wasted child is unable to properly grow. Good nutrition is mandatory for all.