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The Global Nutrition Report was launched yesterday at Safari Park Hotel in a ceremony attended by Kenya’s First Lady, who is also the patron of nutrition on the country. The Global Nutrition Report is an independent annual assessment of the progress that countries globally are making in matters nutrition. The aim of the report is to speak to Governments and other players to make impactful commitment to end malnutrition in all its forms.

The report highlights the high cost of malnutrition on health systems globally, as well as gaps that need to be filled by countries in terms of investments and commitments.

The malnutrition statistics are staggering.  Out of a world population of 7 billion, about 2 billion suffer from micronutrient malnutrition and 800,000 suffer from calorie deficiency. Out of 5 billion adults globally, nearly 2 billion are overweight and one in 12 has type 2 diabetes.  Bear in mind that malnutrition is not in all cases lack of food, but lack of proper nutrients. The people who fall into the fast food eating bracket and those who eat other empty over processed foods are also at risk of malnutrition and obesity.

Malnutrition is spread among all ages but it is particularly bad in children, and this starts right from the point where new-borns do not get to breastfeed enough. It is recommended that children are breast fed exclusively for 6 months before being introduced to solid foods. These first days of a baby’s life can make or break them nutrition-wise, and therefore health-wise for life.

Children Malnutrition

As it is, half of all the world’s child deaths for children under 5 are attributable to malnutrition. Out of 667 Million children under the age of 5, 159 million are stunted (too short for their age), 50 million are wasted (weight less than is enough for their height) and 41 million are overweight. Malnutrition which is a major player in disease is putting serious strain on health systems which are already struggling.

The Kenyan case

Our constitution clearly recognizes and defines food and nutrition as a human right. It recognizes that everyone has a right to the highest attainable standard of living for health and wellbeing.

Going by our 2030 dreams as a country, we need an end to malnutrition rather urgently. The success of Vision 2030 is pegged on among other things a strong and healthy workforce and we need to start nurturing this right from the children.

Being such an agricultural country, our problem is not necessarily lack of food but rather a lack of cohesiveness between different sectors. To tackle malnutrition in all its forms, we will need political goodwill and commitment, as well as top notch collaboration between sectors like education, health, planning and devolution, livestock, fisheries and of course the people.

“We live in a world where being malnourished is the new normal. It is a world that we must all claim as totally unacceptable” – Lawrence Haddad. Co-Chair Global Nutrition Report’s Independent Expert Group And Senior Research Fellow at the International Food Policy Institute.

The 2016 Global Nutrition Report is available for download here.

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