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As Key Opinion Leaders in the Government and Health sector call for a multi-sectoral approach in tackling the challenge
Nutrition Expert Seven Seas produced by Merck Consumer Health, a leading science and technology company in healthcare has unveiled an awareness campaign to actively fight malnutrition in Kenya.
The campaign dubbed ‘Together for a #StrongerGeneration’ was unveiled last month at an event that brought together key stakeholders in the government, Medical Agriculture, Sports and Education fields to discuss the underlying challenge of malnutrition in Kenya.
The launch event also created a platform for a mini –roundtable discussion in which key opinion leaders from different sectors discussed the challenges posed by malnutrition in Kenya.
Gladys Mugambi, Head of Nutrition, Ministry of Health and Sanitation who was the chief guest said the government is working on programmes that will increase the awareness level on the importance of good nutrition for children. “We are working with institutions both in government and the private sector to ensure that people are made aware of the importance of a balanced diet for children to reduce cases of stunted growth and ailments associated with malnutrition,” she noted.
The campaign seeks to break the downward cycle of mal nourished, weaker generations by engaging the population to practice healthy lifestyles and nutrition habits through influential opinion makers, national media and direct engagements with consumers.
Dr. Alex Awiti an Education consultant with the Aga Khan Foundation said malnutrition has a huge impact on the performance of children in school. He said most stunted children do not achieve their full potential in their adult life. “The first 1000 days of a child are very vital. If a child misses the right nutrients from conception, their growth will be stunted by 5 years and this cannot be corrected,” he said, adding that the government needs to introduce incentives for young mothers to encourage them to eat healthy and pass the same benefits to their children.
Malnutrition poses a huge challenge in Kenya today. Every year, nearly 100,000 children die before their fifth birthday, and 50% of these deaths are linked to malnutrition. Today 2.8 million children in Kenya under the age of five are stunted. The problem of malnutrition and stunting is not often a result of lack of food, but not eating the right food. “As a health company, we believe we can play a role in reducing malnutrition by raising awareness about this issue,encouraging people in Kenya to proactively consider their health,” said Thomas Onyango, General Manager Merck Consumer Healthcare, Central Africa.
Seven Seas has now embarked on nutrition awareness roadshows countrywide where consumers benefit from direct engagements with Nutritionists and Paediatricians who give them advice on the right nutrition for their children. The roadshows have so far covered Nyeri, Nakuru, Nairobi and Eldoret and will head to Mombasa next month.
This campaign follows Merck Consumer Health’s previous support of initiatives that enable access to healthcare inKenya, for example the partnership with Beyond Zero, the national initiative by Kenya’s First Lady H.E Margaret Kenyatta to increase access to healthcare services.