Tuesday, 7 June 2011

MALNUTRITION: Kenya has the highest malnutrition rate in the region despite having the highest number of nutritionists

 EDDY NGETA engeta@ke.nationmedia.com :  June 2 2011
Nutritionists say that the country also experiences perennial food scarcity, even though it is the biggest economy in East and Central Africa, largely due to lack of planning.
The experts in food science are now blaming the Government for failure to put in place proper mechanisms to cushion the country against food scarcity.
A nutrition workshop held in Nakuru to help draft a national food security and nutrition policy yesterday heard that emergency measures put in place to mitigate food scarcities are inadequate to sustain the entire population.
Among the remedial measures they want taken to tackle food insecurity brought about by droughts and other emergencies is the creation of a national food reserve that would be a store of all manner of produce, even powdered milk.
Currently, the Strategic Grain Reserve has only maize and cannot provide adequate nutritional requirements, they said.
“Kenya has the highest number of nutritionists in the region, at 1290 registered practitioners. However, this high number does not translate to improved nutrition indicators for the country compared to our neighbours,” said Rift Valley provincial director of public health and sanitation, Dr Ejersa Waqo.
Dr Waqo pointed out that Rwanda had an exclusive breastfeeding rate 70 per cent among new mothers compared to Kenya’s 32 per cent.
The comments come at a time when Kenya is experiencing a biting food shortage occasioned by the rising cost of living and insufficient rains.
Some areas in the northern parts of the country are in the middle of a drought with many animals being reported dead.
Farmers have also warned that the next harvests might be insufficient due to the failed long rains season.
According to Mr John Owuor, an economist with the Ministry of Planning and National Development, the country might not achieve its long-term growth projections if matters of food security are not addressed.
He reiterated that the nutrition agenda must be incorporated in the mainstream national development planning process.

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