Isiolo launches 5-year plan to counter high malnutrition rate

Isiolo County Secretary Ahmed Galgalo (3rd right) and other county officials display copies of the Isiolo Nutrition Action Plan for 2019/2023.

Photo credit: Waweru Wairimu | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • Malnourishment, especially among children aged five years in the county, remains high.
  • Governor Kuti said his government has introduced community-based feeding programmes for pregnant women.
  • The county has already established and operationalised 50 community units.
  • Mr Alio said the 810 community health volunteers have helped reduce maternal deaths.

The Isiolo County government has launched a five-year nutrition action plan in a bid to scale up efforts towards reduction of malnutrition which still remains a major health concern in the region.

Malnourishment, especially among children aged five years in the county, remains high with stunting and wasting rates at 13.8 and 16.7 per cent respectively.

With the majority of the residents unable to access safe and nutritious diets due to high poverty levels, Governor Mohamed Kuti’s administration has a huge task ahead in achieving optimal nutrition for healthier and better quality life.

Governor Kuti said that to address undernutrition, his government has introduced community-based management, supplementation feeding programmes for pregnant women and capacity building for healthcare workers to offer nutrition services in all health facilities.

Isiolo County Secretary Ahmed Galgalo (left) and County Health Chief Officer Ibrahim Alio address journalists during launch of the Isiolo Nutrition Action Plan for 2019/2023  on October 1, 2020.

Photo credit: Waweru Wairimu | Nation Media Group

Community health units

The county has already established and operationalised 50 community units managed by community health volunteers for provision of health services in the far-flung areas.

Other interventions by the county towards addressing malnutrition are provision of free healthcare services and medical and nutrition commodities and supplies to hospitals.

The leading causes of malnutrition in the county include low uptake of supplementations, high child morbidity and poor feeding practices due to inadequate food supply.

SMART survey 2019 shows that 13.9 per cent of children aged five years are stunted, 13.6 per cent are underweight, while 9.2 per cent are wasted, an improvement from 2014 findings where stunting, wasting and underweight rates were at 18.1, 13.2 and 16.3 per cent respectively.

While appealing to residents to venture into crop farming, the governor reiterated his commitment towards supporting farmers to embrace modern methods for increased productivity to achieve food security.

Crop farming

“Our people should, apart from livestock keeping, venture into crop farming for increased yields so that they can comfortably access a balanced diet,” said County Secretary Ahmed Galgalo who read the governor’s speech.

The county faces recurrent drought due to failure, delayed or low rainfall which results in poor performance of crop and livestock farming and also deteriorates hygiene and sanitation, leading to an increase in diseases.

Isiolo’s long rains food security assessment done in 2019 shows that 57 per cent of households are in need of food assistance with most of the 1,500 hectares under food crop production in the county relying on rain-fed agriculture.

Isiolo Health Chief Officer Ibrahim Alio said the 810 community health volunteers have helped reduce maternal deaths through early detection of underlying health issues during pregnant women's ante-natal visits.

“We have a monitoring system where CHV is able to follow up on pregnant women and ensure they go for regular clinics and check-ups,” said Mr Alio.

He admitted that the county is grappling with an inadequate number of trained healthcare workers on clinical nutrition and dietetics but assured residents that more will be employed to meet the growing needs.

Improved nutrition is expected to contribute to economic productivity and development and reduce poverty.

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