Kenya loses Sh 373.9 bn annually due to under nutrition

By Obegi Malack

Kenya is estimated to have lost an equivalent of about Sh373.9 billion (6.9%) of GDP due to under nutrition.

This was revealed by Kenya Aids NGOs Consortium (KANCO) during media training on Early Child Development Advocacy in Kajiado recently.

Rahab Mwaniki KANCO Campaign manager indicated health related costs were estimated to be Sh18.6  billion (0.3%) of GDP with education related losses estimated to be Sh3.2 bilion (0.06%) of GDP and productivity related losses contributing the largest cost at Sh352.1  bilion (6.5%) of GDP.

She said children who are stunted before the age of five are more likely to under-perform in school; it has a negative impact on their productivity at later stages in life.

County nutrition Co-ordinator Ruth Nasinkoi said one in four children in the county is stunting. She said, however, the situation can be corrected in two years, that is when the mother gets pregnant to when the child is two years old.

In a survey done in 2018 in Kajiado County, it was established that  one in every four children is stunting  that is 25%,  wasting has 10%, underweight 10% , exclusive breastfeeding is 73.8% ( NI-ISG 2020), complementary  feeding 34.8%  ( NI-ISG 2020),Vitamin A supplementation is at 82% ( KHIS,2020), Iron and Folic Acid Consumption at 52.9% (NI-ISG 2020).

Causes of malnutrition occur due to poor diet diversification, poor maternal infant and young child practices, poor hygiene and sanitation practices, infections, long distance to health facilities, recurrent drought and food insecurity. Other causes are low nutrition knowledge among communities, high workload for women and poor infrastructure.

Strategies that have been put in place to correct malnutrition include growth monitoring and nutrition education and counseling, integrated management of acute malnutrition, food by prescription and Anzilisha programme.

Others are  care groups model, baby friendly community initiative, integration of day care at work place, integrated outreaches and health campaigns, high impact nutrition interventions and Malezi Bora initiative.

Early Child Development Advocacy (ECD) programme manager Stephen Ikonya said the training was to build capacity of journalists on importance of ECD, strengthen journalists’ understanding of children rights and understand the importance of nutrition and immunization.

Director Public Health and Sanitation Samson Saigilu said the county government of Kajiado has allocated Sh5 million to support nutrition activities while other organizations have also set aside funds to support the cause.

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