Kenya and UNICEF deploy therapeutic food to prevent child malnutrition

Nairobi, July 13 (IANS): The Kenyan Ministry of Health and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) have started rolling out ready-to-use therapeutic foods to four drought-stricken counties to help prevent severe malnutrition among children.

The shipment of highly nutritious food items worth 30 million shillings ($253,915) is part of joint efforts to mitigate the negative impact of the current drought cycle on children’s health and nutritional security, a said UNICEF in a joint statement issued in Nairobi, the Kenyan capital. , tuesday.

Some of the semi-arid counties benefiting from the supply of ready-to-use therapeutic food to prevent child malnutrition include Turkana, Mandera, Wajir and Isiolo, located in northern Kenya and struggling with a period of acute drought, Xinhua news agency reported.

With funding from UNICEF, the Ministry of Health was able to procure, store and provide last-mile delivery of highly nutritious, ready-to-use foods, such as milk, in 25 counties struggling with child malnutrition.

Terry Ramadhani, CEO of the Kenya Medical Supplies Agency, said providing life-saving therapeutic foods from local manufacturers will help reverse stunting among children in the current drought cycle.

He added that Kenya has leveraged a partnership with multilateral institutions to scale up nutritional support for children in 23 arid and semi-arid counties currently affected by drought.

She revealed that since 2015, the medical supply agency has distributed UNICEF-supported food items to more than 2,200 health facilities in the drylands, achieving zero child deaths from malnutrition.

According to Ramadhani, the last round of therapeutic food distribution recorded a recovery rate of over 75% for previously malnourished children in arid and semi-arid counties.

Kenya’s acute malnutrition rate has also dropped from 26 percent in 2016 to 20.1 percent currently in semi-arid counties due to the availability of vital food items, Ramadhani said.

Statistics from the National Drought Management Authority (NDMA) indicate that in June, 4.1 million Kenyans were in urgent need of food aid amid growing drought caused by four consecutive failed rainy seasons.

In addition, 942,000 children between the ages of 9 and 59 months suffered from acute malnutrition in drought-affected counties, while 134,000 pregnant and lactating women in drought hotspots suffered from severe malnutrition and required treatment, according to the report. NDMA.

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