Kenya Tuesday joined four other countries that simultaneously launched the Global Nutrition report 2016.
The Global Nutrition Report (GNR) is an annual independent review of the state of the world’s nutrition status. Besides Kenya, this year’s report was launched in South Africa, Sweden, the USA and India.
Kenya was picked alongside the other four countries to launch the GNR 2016 to celebrate the positive progress the country has made in tackling some of the world’s health challenges including obesity and related diseases
According to the GNR report 2016 launched by First Lady Margaret Kenyatta at a Nairobi Hotel, “Kenya is the only country in the world that has shown progress in all the five World Health Assembly (WHA) nutrition targets”.
The report also commends Kenya highly for developing plans to target Non Communicable diseases (NCDs) such as diabetes.
“This indeed shows the country’s commitment to address the challenge and though the country still struggles with the issue (diabetes) and a growing burden of obesity and NCDs, it is a source of hope and a best practice where (Kenya) other countries can learn from”, says a summary of the GNR 2016.
The First Lady said she was proud to be associated with the report which she had endorsed earlier in the year because it singles Kenya as a country that has made significant gains in addressing the global challenges of obesity, NCDs and in devolving nutrition data to the lowest levels in the country.
She also expressed happiness that the GNR 2015 had also highlighted Kenya as a country that was in course in meeting WHA targets for maternal and Child Nutrition.
“It is our leadership in these areas of health and nutrition; and our demonstrated commitment to achieving greater levels of both, that is the reason why Kenya is launching this report alongside four other countries in the world—the United States, Sweden, South Africa and India”, said the First Lady.
The First Lady who is the patron of the scaling-up nutrition movement said the Kenya’s National strategy for the prevention of NCDs and the National Nutrition Action Plan both demonstrate our national choice and consciousness on the importance of preserving and advancing the health of all Kenyans.
She said adequate health and nutrition are a precursor to development and economic growth.
“We know that it is only healthy people who are able to be productive, innovative and aspirational; free to drive businesses, and work harder for their employers, and allow infants to grow into young healthy adults”, she said.
As the patron of the Beyond Zero Campaign that focuses attention on the health of mothers and children, said the First Lady, she had witnessed firsthand how poor diets and poor health environments affect children, mothers and communities.
“The burden of malnutrition not only robs our children from experiencing their full potential, malnutrition affects families, communities and societies. It affects us all, and we must therefore do more to address this challenge”, she said.
To end malnutrition, the First Lady underlined the need for proper policy direction, national investment on the area of nutrition and awareness especially on the need for exclusive breastfeeding.
“The burden of malnutrition not only robs our children from experiencing their full potential, malnutrition affects families, communities and societies. It affects us all, and we must therefore do more to address this challenge”, said the First Lady
She was optimistic that the country has capacity to end malnutrition by 2030.
“This is what this report is calling for. We already have demonstrated that we have the moral and economic motivation; we have the resources; we have the guiding national documents; and we have the impetus to do away with malnutrition for good”.she said.
Cabinet Secretary for Health Dr Cleopa Mailu described nutrition as both national and global problem. He called for scaled-up interventions to addresses problems of stunting, wasting, low birth weight and childhood overweight.
Health Principal Secretary Dr. Nicholas Muraguri said the country is doing very well in child nutrition but not for adults. He said 30 per cent of Kenyans are either obese or overweight. Among these, 20 per cent of them are men and 40 per cent women and exposing health risks such as cancer, hypertension and diabetes.
Others who spoke at the function included UNICEF Country Representative Dr. Pirkko Heinonen, Parliamentary Health Committee chairperson Dr. Rachel Nyamai, German Foundation for World Population Director Dr. George Kamau and the Head of co-operation at the European Union, Erik Habers.