The year 2015 is here. It marks 51 years since Kenya attained its independence. Many Kenyans have made resolutions regarding healthy living coupled with a range of diet plans and lifestyle choices. Unfortunately, over 2.5 million severely malnourished Kenyan children do not have much of a choice about when to, what to and not what to eat. In fact, over half of Kenya’s population living below the poverty line will too often make do with a meal per day or skip a day or two before they get another meal.
35% of all Kenyan children under 2 years are stunted. In West Pokot alone, 47% of all children below 2 years are stunted. Being stunted means seeing one’s development irreversibly slowed down due to lack of proper nutrition among children. When children are stunted, they will never reach their full mental and physical potential and that is, assuming they survive. This affects their school performance and ability to become innovative and economically productive later in life.
We want a population that is healthy and productive so as to boost the economy of the country. KANCO asserts that overall productivity of the nation is at risk due to poor nutrition. The current status of nutrition is serious and the action of the government is not sufficient enough to address the situation. Unacceptably 50,000 children in Kenya die every year because they are underweight, vitamin A-deficient, or not exclusively breastfed for the first six months of life (Population Reference Bureau, 2014). Further, one in every 2 Kenyan women suffers from iron deficiency which can lead to giving birth before the required time. This has a huge impact on the country’s development.
The 2014 Global Report on Nutrition confirms that Kenya is off track for reaching the World Health Assembly targets for both chronic and acute malnutrition. To compound the problem, Kenya is currently experiencing a rise in diet-related noncommunicable diseases, such as diabetes, some cancers, kidney and liver complications all attributed to poor nutrition practices.
Different Ministries like Agriculture, Education, Infrastructure, National Treasury and the private sector including civil society need to be involved to coordinate a frontal attack on malnutrition. They also need to be organized at national level so as to increase useful dialogue, decision‐making and knowledge‐sharing about access to and use of resources for nutrition. This will result to development of good strategies for nutrition and high level interventions implemented.
GRASSROOTS CITIZENS ARE CALLING FOR ACTION
We wish to commend the government for showing commitment to nutrition. However, we seem to be losing the fight and we need all players in nutrition to come together so that they can unite forces. The Government, at its highest levels i.e. President and Cabinet Secretary for Health, needs to convene a national multi-stakeholders platform.