Multisectoral stakeholder approaches to fighting malnutrition in Kakamega County have helped to improve coordination of nutrition actions in the County, leading to a significant decline in cases of malnutrition for the last nine years.
Speaking at Matete Sub-County Hospital during a graduation ceremony for 64 children who are beneficiaries of a 90-day rehabilitation exercise under the pilot Positive Deviance Hearth (PDH) programme targeting Chevaywa and Lwandeti wards, the County Executive Committee Member for Health Services, Dr. Bernard Wesonga hinted that the cases of malnutrition in the County have reduced due to the concerted efforts of multi-sectoral and multi-stakeholder approaches in which they have been finding inventive and creative solutions for fighting and mitigating the effects of malnutrition.
““We have over the years seen improvement in the fight against malnutrition within the County. In 2014, the malnutrition rate stood at 28 per cent, but through multi-sectoral collaborations and high-impact nutrition interventions such as the PD Hearth we have successfully brought down the rate to 11.5 per cent,” disclosed Dr. Wesonga.
He noted that the efforts of leaders from health, education, social protection, agriculture, water, children’s offices, and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and good will from the government have led to drastic success in measures in the fight against malnutrition in the County.
He further noted: “A multi-sectoral and multi-stakeholder approach to tackle matters of nutrition has enabled the team to mobilize resources for the implementation of nutrition programmes and projects that have helped fight and mitigate the effects of malnutrition.”
He said that the County government has partnered with non-governmental organizations like World Vision International, United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and other partners who have been key in supporting the health team to be able to improve malnutrition cases in the County.
He said the community has been mobilized for behavioural change on how they can produce food and how well they can consume it.
“The community must change its norms in childcare and health-feeding practices. Cultural beliefs and practices that do not promote good health for children should be put aside and good practices found in the community adopted,” said Dr. Wesonga.
Despite the significant drop, Dr Wesonga said there was still more to be done by the health stakeholders to further reduce the rate.
“We need to identify children with or at risk of malnutrition to quickly rehabilitate malnourished children, to enable families to sustain their rehabilitation at home independently, and to prevent further malnutrition among newborns in the society.
The CECM reminded stakeholders that the success of the PDH pilot programme in the two wards is a clear indicator that sustainable solutions to community problems already exist within them and just need to be discovered.
He noted that the PDH programme is a globally accepted intensive behaviour change nutrition approach that enables the channeling of resources to communities to help them independently address malnutrition with solutions that are affordable and sustainable.
“Congratulations to the parents of the 64 pilot beneficiaries and the healthcare workers for their commitment towards ensuring they graduate from malnourishment to better health. This graduation is proof that the programme can work,” he stated.
He appealed to the parents to share the skills and knowledge they have gained in the past 90 days with others and take care of their children to prevent the problem from recurring.
Keziah Ouma from World Vision International Matete Area Program called for more collaborative efforts from the County government and other stakeholders in order to scale up the programme to other Sub-Counties.
She lauded the County’s health department for its commitment to ensuring the successful implementation of the pilot PDH programme.
Positive Deviance Hearth Programme is an agri-nutritional programme sponsored by World Vision targeting malnourished children aged 6 to 36 months, identified by Community Health Promoters in Chevaywa and Lwandeti wards in Matete Sub County.
Under the programme, trainers and nutritionists take the identified children and their parents through a 90-day nutrition training and rehabilitation session. The children are weighed every 30 days to establish their progress and graduate once they achieve the recommended weight.