By: Emily Mikwa
Yesterday, the County leadership from the departments of Health, Agriculture, Education and the Office of the first Lady, held a meeting to discuss and endorse strategies to enhance multi-sectoral nutrition coordination and resource mobilization.
The discussions held at the Imperial Hotel- Kisumu, were based on the Kisumu County Nutrition Action Plan 2021-2023 launched on the 28th October last year, which is a three-year nutrition strategic plan that seeks to address malnutrition in all its forms using a life course approach
The Action Plan upholds multi- sectoral collaborations and linkages to address the social determinants of malnutrition sustainably, drawing its insight from the 2010 Constitution of Kenya article 43 (1) that gives every person the right to: the highest attainable standards of health, freedom from hunger and access to adequate food of acceptable quality.
In her presentation that formed the basis of discussions, the county Officer Coordinating nutrition services, Madam Rael Omwando underscored the vital role nutrition plays in our health and development.
She said nutrition has a direct relationship with child survival, physical and mental growth, learning capacity, adult productivity and overall social and economic development.
However, she pointed out that high levels of malnutrition remain a public health concern and a hindrance to achieving the country’s developmental agenda.
She further outlined the emerging triple burden of malnutrition such as under nutrition (underweight, stunting and wasting, overweight and obesity, micro-nutrient deficiencies in addition to the burden of non- communicable diseases (NCDs) from the Kenya Demographic and Health Survey (KDHS, 2014)
On the flip side, she outlined the benefits of good nutrition in boosting gross national product by 11%, preventing child deaths by more than one third per year, improving school attainment by at least one year, increase in wages by 5-50%, reducing poverty as well-nourished children are 33% more likely to escape poverty as adults, empowering women to be 10% more likely to run their own business and breaking the inter-generational cycle of poverty.( Haddad, L. Child Growth = Sustainable Economic Growth: Why we should invest in nutrition. May 2013)
Concerning the Nutrition situation in Kisumu County, the statistics are as follows: out of 158,039 children under five years, 28,447 are stunted (18%); 1,264 are wasted (0.8 %); 9,482are overweight/obese (6%); 11,063 underweight (7%).
This indicates the existence of disparities in the prevalence of stunting, wasting and underweight across the sub counties. (Source: KDHS 2014)
On food and nutrition security, 44 %of children consume Minimal Acceptable Diet (MAD), 80% of children under 5 years consume diet deficit in iron (MOH/UNICEF,2016). 40%women attending antenatal care have HB <11g/dl (Source; KHIS,2021)
Only 37% of the women in the program areas met the Minimum dietary diversity The least commonly available foods were;other fruits such as wild fruits (25.2%) organ meat Iron rich (13.9%). (ABDP 2020, baseline report).
Speaking during the meeting, Mama County, Dorothy Nyong’o who is a passionate champion on matters nutrition, thanked the partners USAID- Save the Children for being part of the initiative, promising her support for the good of the people of Kisumu.
She affirmed that the multi-sectoral approach is the way to go and that it will make a difference, adding that other departments like Roads should be part of the team to help implement other policies that would improve the general health lifestyles of the people (walking spaces)
Mama County attested to the fact that being a mentored nutrition champion of cone garden by the CECM Agriculture, Mr. Okuom during the COVID -19 period, has impacted positively into the lives of cancer the patients, giving them aspects of correct nutrition in their meals and a renewed hope in life.
With the amazing feedback, she said 300 vegetable cone gardens are set to be put up in six counties. Kisumu currently has over 100 of such gardens and in the course of next week plans are in place to put up 10 to 20 more.
She noted with concern, focusing on mothers for the first 1,000 days that they bring up the children, regretting that failure to sensitize them on nutritional issues then, will be a great loss for them.
Bringing more champions on board she said is a good idea towards the implementation of the action plan and that it should be treated with urgency.
The CECM Education Mr. John Awiti said he was impressed by the whole idea, reiterating that his department deals with the innocent children and most needy in the society though with a budgetary constraint.
He admitted that the feeding program increases enrollment of children in schools but when the food becomes unavailable due to lack of funds, children drop out of school drastically.
He said the synergy is key in enabling the line departments achieve their goals as they impact on the general well being of the people of Kisumu.
According to the CECM for Agriculture, irrigation, Livestock and Fisheries Mr. Gilchrist Okuom, the presentation was informative and that it requires setting targets that through synergy, the people can be sensitized on nutrition matters.
Creating market for local products he said would be key to the farmers, after identification of the required foods with nutritional qualities, the ECDEs can provide ready markets for the farmers.
The farmers he said should also be sensitized not only to produce the best for the market but also for family consumption too. Embracing new urban technologies in producing organic and quality food he said will enable people eat nutritious food.
Mr. Okuom said regulations on food safety are underway to help solve the problem of residents buying contaminated foods that are spread on the ground which also cause of nutritional deficiencies.
The chief Officer/ Ag. CECM Health, Dr. Gregory Ganda applauded the synergy saying, it will provide a head organ that will examine the indicators on a quarterly basis. This will guide the county in understanding where it is and how to move to the next level.
He added that health is the tail end of everything, by the time a patient gets to hospital then one realizes that something is a miss. Teaming up with line departments he said will help solve the problem at early stages before the situation of the person warrants health services at the facilities.
The champions he said would play a key role in manipulating the political space and partners, resulting into better strategies when people work as a team.
Dr. Ganda also led the departmental leadership from Education, Agriculture and Health into signing commitment towards multi – sectoral nutrition approach to implement the County Nutrition action Plan 2021- 2023.
The Chief of Party, Dr. Peter Milo from the USAID, advancing nutrition Kenya being implemented by Save the Children was pleased partnering with Kisumu County and other stakeholders in addressing persistent and food malnutrition issues.
He added that more important on their part is having nutrition champions on board at all levels up to the community, as influencers and advocates to amplify the voices of nutrition services and increase demand for better services, increased budgetary allocation, and commitment to increased resource mobilization that will impact positively on the health and economic development of the people.
The session saw the leadership in the line departments with roles in implementation of nutrition sensitive and nutrition specific interventions, signing a commitment to have a common nutrition guiding document, Kisumu County Nutrition Action Plan (KCNAP 2021-2023) guided by Dr. Ganda the chief Officer/ Ag. CECM Health.