Good nutrition is key to child survival, growth and development of children in Kenya.
Poor nutrition in infancy and early childhood increases the risk of infant child morbidity and mortality, diminished cognitive and physical development marked by poor performance in school. Malnutrition also impacts on productivity later in life. Malnutrition in children can be attributed to a variety of factors including poor infant and young child feeding practices, poor maternal nutrition, low access to adequate and diversified diets, childhood illnesses and inadequate access to health and nutrition services. According to Lancet Nutrition Series published in 2008, if the package of Essential Nutrition Interventions is effectively accessed by mothers from the conception period and children up to two years of age and implemented on a wider scale, in the short run, infant mortality would reduce by 25%, maternal mortality by 20% and chronic malnutrition/stunting in children by 30%. Improving the nutritional status of women of reproductive age while delaying pregnancy could reduce risk factors that affect the health and survival chances of both mother and child. The main causes of malnutrition among WRA include sub-optimal feeding practices especially during pregnancy, heavy workload, and low micronutrient intake during pregnancy. Strategic objectives one in the National nutrition Action Plan (NNAP) 2012 to 2017 focuses on activities that will ensure that women of reproductive age receive adequate micro and macro nutrients, while strategic objective 2 focuses on activities that will contribute to the exploitation of the critical ‘window of opportunity’ from pre-pregnancy until children are two years of age as endorsed in the 2010 UN summit resolution on nutrition.
- Promote healthy dietary practices among WRA
- Promote adequate micronutrient intake
- Promote routine weight monitoring and appropriate counselling for pregnant women
- Promote appropriate management of malnutrition of pregnant and lactating women
- Ensure that all HIV positive mothers are counselled on good nutrition practices.
- Strengthen the capacity of health facilities to adequately offer maternal nutrition services.
- Promote exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of baby’s life
- Promote optimal complementary feeding with continued breastfeeding for at least two years
- Provide appropriate micronutrient supplements to children less than five years
- Strengthen growth monitoring and promotion for children less than five years of age
- Strengthen referral mechanism and linkage between the community and health facility.
- Develop a national monitoring plan for nutrition commodities
- Ensure food safety of nutrition commodities.
- Improved nutritional status of women of reproductive age
- Improvement in nutritional status of children under the age of five years