Embu: Health experts raise alarm over high rate of stunting among children

Health and nutrition experts in Embu county have raised concern over the high rate of stunting among children aged between 2 and 5 as a result of malnutrition. According to the Kenya Demographic Health Survey of 2014, the rate of stunting which is defined as impaired growth children experience, especially from poor nutrition, stood at […]

Embu: Health experts raise alarm over high rate of stunting among children

Health and nutrition experts in Embu county have raised concern over the high rate of stunting among children aged between 2 and 5 as a result of malnutrition.

According to the Kenya Demographic Health Survey of 2014, the rate of stunting which is defined as impaired growth children experience, especially from poor nutrition, stood at 26.8 per cent in the county.

The statistics further indicate that wasting, which refers to a child being too thin for his or her height, was at 3 per cent while the underweight prevalence rate was at 11 per cent.

Health and nutrition experts have warned that if the trend is not reversed through proper feeding of babies, the county stares at a generation of children that will not live to achieve their full potential in education and career life.

NGO

Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) Nutrition International (NI) Coordinator of Child Health Nutrition in the County Joan Irungu said the malnutrition crisis called for quick intervention measures to be put in place to reverse the trend.

Speaking at Kairuri Health Center in Embu North sub-county on Wednesday, November 23, 2022, during the launch of Malezi Bora programme for this financial year, Irungu said in order to nip the condition in the bud, there was a need for concerted efforts from all stakeholders.

She noted that stunting not only affects the stature but also the mental and cognitive development of babies and once a child reaches two years, the damage becomes irreversible and the condition can only be managed henceforth meaning that the future of the affected child/children will be abnormal.

Preventive measures

She asked parents to keenly follow proper child feeding practices and diet quality as it impacts the child’s growth and wellbeing.

Irungu advised parents to regularly pay visits to health centres and also keep in touch with Community Health Workers to get information and guidelines on nutrition and proper feeding of babies.

Acting County Director of Health, Dr Stephen Kaniaru, said promotion of proper baby healthcare starts with antenatal care where an expectant woman is able to get micronutrient supplementation followed by quality postnatal care that includes immunization and counselling on breastfeeding.

“We urge all pregnant women to make a point of attending at least four antenatal clinics to start the baby on the right growth trajectory,” he said.

Dr Kaniaru also asked expectant mothers to avoid home delivery as complications may arise that can only be handled by a skilled health worker and in the process expose the baby or mother to serious health complications or death.

This year’s Malezi Bora programme is organized under the theme of “Sustaining Maternal, Newborn, Child health and Nutrition Services for the Attainment of Universal Health Coverage.”