What you need to know:
- The Uji plus porridge, a brainchild of Terik community, was approved last month by Kemri after clinical trials were conducted in Nandi, Kirinyaga and Homa Bay counties.
- The community had requested partnership with Kemri to support in scientific formulation and clinical trials of the porridge.
A special herbal porridge being provided to schoolgoing children has boosted deworming efforts and increased enrolment in learning institutions, according to the Kenya Medical Research Institute (Kemri).
The Uji plus porridge, a brainchild of Terik community, was approved last month by Kemri after clinical trials were conducted in Nandi, Kirinyaga and Homa Bay counties.
The community had requested partnership with Kemri to support in scientific formulation and clinical trials of the porridge.
Kemri Director-General Maritim Songok noted that the herbal formulation designed to be taken as a school meal snack for nutrition and deworming was found to be 100 per cent effective.
He explained that the porridge eradicates skin infections including ring worms. Prof Songok said results from the clinical trials indicated that the children who took the porridge were free from worms, their immune had been boosted and their performance in school improved.
The director-general urged the Ministry of Education and all the 47 county governments to ensure that all school going children have access to the porridge that has clinically proven to be effective for the treatment of schistosomiasis in children under six years.
He added that professionals from the Terik community have been working in collaboration with leading scientists from Japan and Canada universities.
Speaking at Kapsengere Primary School where Kemri handed over the product to the local community, Prof Songok said the porridge met all the requirements.
Terik Council Chairman John Bor said the community is in the process of setting up a factory to produce the porridge in large quantities. Already, the product has been patented with the Kenya Intellectual Property Institute .
Parents and local leaders said many learners who had dropped out of school resumed after the feeding programme was introduced.
Education officials in Nandi County said the number of children in Early Childhood Education classes had doubled in eight local primary schools.
For instance, at Kapsengere Primary School had 24 children in ECDE but the numbers had increased to 45 children since provision of the porridge.
“We want to urge communities in Kenya who have unique herbal products that we can partner with to come forward and work with us. We will not take away your innovation. We are a public institution and we will continue to serve communities,” said Prof Songok.
Quickfire with Prof Songok
Is there any recommendation amount of Uji plus?
Yes, during our clinical trials one cup of 300ml daily of Uji plus taken for two months had a good effect.
What’s the impact on enrolment?
There was nearly a 100 per cent enrolment in schools where we introduced the porridge. The Introduction of school feeding programmes increases enrolment especially in rural and slum schools.
How many schools benefited from the porridge?
At least 17 schools in three counties: Nandi, Kirinyaga and Homa Bay. Total number of children who took the porridge was 2,100. Clinical trials and analysis were done from 2012 to 2021.
Can it be a solution to high level of malnutrition?
Yes.The greatest impact was actually observed on nutrition rather than deworming- increased appetite in children, increased weight, increased haemoglobin content with significant reduction in anemia cases.
Has it been patented?
Yes, it has both a Kenya Industrial Property Institute patent and a World Intellectual Property organisation patent.
Can it be infused with other products such as milk to achieve similar results?
We don’t know because we haven’t tested.