MI Kenya has been recognized by the Kenyan government as contributing to raising the profile and importance of maternal and child health and nutrition throughout the country.
MI Kenya priorities focus on support for the government’s National Nutrition Action Plan for Malezi Bora, or Mother and Child Health Day activities.
We support a nutrition community-based maternal and newborn health sub-national program, including training, strengthen essential nutrition actions and integration into community health units. Other priorities are to:
- Develop and implement a national sustainable program that integrates vitamin A supplementation into existing social and health systems.
- Increase household coverage of iodized salt by working closely with partners.
- Increase iodized salt production capacity by supporting producers and government regulators in developing a robust national iodization monitoring and enforcement system.
- Support the Kenyan government in implementing the zinc and oral rehydration salt component of its Five-Year Plan for Pneumonia and Diarrhoea at the national and county levels.
- Provide technical and financial assistance to help the Ministry of Public Health implement its multi-year plan for accelerating anaemia reduction through Iron and Folic Acid supplementation of pregnant women (2012–2017).
- Continued support to Kenya’s Ministry of Health and partners in implementing a Community Based Maternal and Newborn Health (CBMNH) Project in Kakamega County.
- In 2013, the Kenyan government, with MI and our partners, reached more than 3 million children 6 to 59 months of age with two doses of vitamin A supplementation, ensuring a much needed boost to immune systems.
- With the contribution of MI and other partners, the Ministry of Public Health was able to treat 5.3 million diarrhoea episodes in children below five years in 2013, ensuring faster recover and saving lives.
- Advocacy by MI, and partners resulted in zinc being reclassified by the government from pharmacy-only medicine to a general sales over-the-counter drug in 2012, allowing much wider availability of zinc.
- MI continues to assist four salt producers with technical and operational assistance for improved salt iodization. This includes strengthening the iodization monitoring system at market level and thereby setting clear responsibilities for program managers, food safety public health officers, and regulators.
- In partnership with MI, the division of nutrition within the Ministry of Public Health recruited a consultant to develop a national behaviour change intervention plan and design supporting messages and materials aimed at improving iron and folic acid utilization among pregnant women.
As many as 84% of children under five in Kenya are deficient in vitamin A, which compromises their immune system and increases their vulnerability to illnesses such as diarrhoea, measles, and respiratory infections.
MI Kenya and our partners work with the Government of Kenya to increase the uptake of services from health facilities as a routine strategy.
This includes advocating for an overall more permissive policy that would allow for extensive delivery of key interventions, such as VAS through supervised community health workers and volunteers.
MI Kenya has provided the Ministry of Public Health and Sanitation with the national supply of vitamin A capsules. We continue to work with the Ministry of Public Health and partners to support delivery to children nationwide during national measles immunization campaigns. This sustainable system of vitamin A supplementation delivery is carried out through existing health facilities and outreach activities and helps improve coverage.
Other MI Kenya activities include supporting Malezi Bora, or Child Health and Nutrition Weeks, for socio-mobilization during immunization campaigns, logistical assistance for health workers, as well as monitoring and supervision support.
Diarrhoea, along with pneumonia and malaria, remains the leading cause of child deaths in Kenya, according to the World Health Organization.
Together, zinc and oral rehydration salts to treat diarrhoea is a proven solution that not only stops diarrhoea but helps a child feel better, faster, and even save lives.
Advocacy efforts by MI Kenya and other partners resulted in zinc being reclassified by the Ministry of Health from a pharmacy-only medicine to a general-sales/over-the-counter drug in 2012.
This change has greatly increased its availability, as distribution can take place at community-level small shops. For instance in the Narok South project site, shop owners are trained for half a day on diarrhoea recognition and treatment and then, with ongoing supervision support, provided with co-packs to sell at their shops.
In 2013, MI Kenya and its partners were instrumental in getting two local pharmaceutical manufacturers to produce zinc and ORS as co-packs.
This collaboration, along with the reclassification, has increased public access to zinc/ORS, making it available in public and private health facilities, churches, mosques, via community health workers, through pharmacies and shops, as well as other outlets.
MI Kenya also supported the training of health service providers to provide effective diarrhoea management support for those in need. We are working with the government to support the implementation of the zinc/ORS component of its Five-Year Plan for Pneumonia and Diarrhoea. This includes support to senior health managers on diarrhoea policy, and the development of comprehensive plans for scaling up zinc/ORS.
MI Kenya is focused on making sure caregivers seek care for childhood diarrhoea. Education and communication information through social mobilization campaigns and public health messaging during Child Health Week activities ensures we are reaching caregivers at the community level.
Nutrition and Health for Pregnant Women in Kenya
By reaching women earlier and more often during their pregnancy, there is a greater chance of healthier and safer pregnancies and births.
MI Kenya is working with the Ministry of Health to implement a community-based maternal and newborn health and nutrition (CBMNH-N) project in Kakemega County, Western Province, as part of MI’s bigger research project, funded by the Government of Canada in four African countries.
This includes a demonstration project with a package of interventions that aim to drive demand for maternal and newborn health facility services, improve the quality of care and strengthen essential nutrition actions at those contact points.
Over 24,000 women and newborns have been reached to date through the large-scale demonstration project, and 1,384 community and facility-based health workers have been trained.
Kenya is a major salt producer in the sub-region and is a source of iodized salt for seven neighbouring countries.
MI Kenya, in collaboration with the government, GAIN, UNICEF, the salt industry and salt producers and others, supports the Ministry of Public Health to ensure sustainable availability and consumption of quality iodized salt in all households and especially for women of reproductive age.
MI Kenya continues to work on improving the effectiveness of monitoring and enforcement systems for salt iodization to provide quality and timely data for decision making at all levels.
We are seeking to increase production capacity by supporting producers and government regulators in institutionalizing a robust national monitoring and enforcement system while continuing to support advocacy for the enforcement of salt iodization standards.
Through close collaboration and effective coordination with all partners, we hope to increase coverage of iodized salt to 90%.
Kenya previously had approximately 90% coverage of household iodized salt consumption, however, recent surveys indicate that iodization levels have been slipping and as much as 12% of salt in the country may not be adequately iodized.
Iron and Folic Acid Supplementation
MI Kenya provides ongoing support to the Ministry of Public Health to accelerate anaemia reduction through iron and folic acid supplementation of pregnant women, including providing the necessary technical and financial support to help drive success.
According to the 2010 Kenya National Micronutrient Survey, pregnant women in Kenya have high levels of iron deficiency (26%) and anaemia (42.6%).
While the Ministry of Public Health has been implementing the iron and folic acid supplementation program for many years, reaching approximately 60% of pregnant women, only about 2.5% of pregnant women take the recommended dose throughout their pregnancy.
- Kenya: Community Action for Pregnant Women
- Community Action for Pregnant Women in Africa: Project Overview
- Fostering a stronger community-to-facility link to increase maternal and newborn health and nutrition
- Mobilizing the community to prioritize nutrition interventions