H.E Governor Alex Tolgos presided over the launch of an ambitious five year County Nutrition Action Plan (CNAP) that seeks to significantly cut back malnutrition in the County.
The CNAP was developed by the County Department of Health with support from Nutrition International (NI) and World Vision and it started being implemented from 2018 and will run through to 2023. It seeks to among others;
(1) Reduce under nutrition by reducing prevalence of stunting among children under the age of five by 40% as well as reduce and maintain child wasting to less than 5%.
(2) Reduce over-nutrition to reduce childhood overweight and obesity.
(3) Reduce micro-nutrient deficiencies by reducing folic acid deficiency among non-pregnant women by 50%, reducing Vitamin A deficiency in children by 50% and reducing iodine deficiency among children under the age of five by over 50%.
The launch was also graced virtually by NI Regional Director Dr Richard Pendame and Country Director Martha Nyagaya among other NI and World Vision Senior officials.
The CNAP will cost the County Ksh 1.4 Billion, 27% of which has already been met by the County’s development partners.
Dr Pendame challenged the County to allocate resources towards funding the CNAP to ensure continuity of nutrition services especially as the Enhancing Nutrition Services to Improve Maternal and Child (ENRICH) projects funded by World Vision Canada comes to an end this year.
“We would like to call upon the governor and the leadership to pursue a long-term approach to sustainable financing for nutrition in order to support CNAP implementation and continuity of ENRICH project interventions,” he said.
The Governor echoed the sentiments and said the County Executive would work closely with County Assembly to allocate funds towards nutrition in the five fiscal years and make the funds a permanent feature in the County budget.
He said that while Elgeyo Marakwet County has improved access to basic health service, nutrition indicators are still troubling. Rates of stunting and underweight in children are higher than the national average, while the number of women who make the recommended four antenatal care visits is low, at only 24%.
He hailed the ENRICH programme which he said had greatly assisted the Country in bringing down cases of malnutrition, especially among mothers and children.
“Since the launch of the ENRICH Program in 2016, we have made tremendous progress in scaling up efforts to eradicate malnutrition in Elgeyo Marakwet County. This could not have been possible without the technical and financial support of our consortium partners,” he said.
He said the CNAP further builds onto the County’s deliberate efforts to prioritize nutritional services in our food security and healthcare interventions.
County Assembly Health Committee Chair Shadrack Luley as well as his Budget Committee counterpart John Yator who were present in the event committed to work with the County Executive to allocate resources towards nutrition services.
“We shall rally our colleagues in the County Assembly as well as our constituents to ensure that we always have a budget available for nutrition services. This is our pledge today,” they said.
Health CEC Isaac Kamar said the rates of malnutrition in Elgeyo Marakwet were higher than the national average rates and also committed to work with his Cabinet colleagues to align their departmental interventions towards reversing the trends.
“Iam glad that we have now joined forces with my colleagues in Agriculture, Health and Education to scale up these efforts. I have no doubt this collaboration will come in handy as we implement the CNAP we have launched today,” he said.
The County Nutrition Coordinator Mrs Priscilla Ngetich, who led in the development of the plan, highlighted the key result areas of the CNAP and called on all County stakeholders to take part in its implementation.
Also present during the occasion was the Ministry of Health Nutrition Unit Representative Rose Wambu who disclosed that Kenya loses over Ksh 370 billion due to malnutrition and called for concerted efforts to combat its effects on the economy.
Others who graced the occasion were County CECs, Cos, Directors, Community Health Volunteers and invited members of the public.