Sunday, January 29, 2023
Health

Experts in Nairobi to share knowledge on health, nutrition programs

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PHOTO: Martha Nyagaya, County Director, of Nutrition International

Nutrition
experts drawn from 11 counties are meeting in Nairobi this week for the
Cross-County Learning Forum, an initiative by Nutrition International.

The
forum will provide key stakeholders, county leadership and the national
government with the opportunity to jointly reflect on progress, review
performance, challenges, and achievement of set targets and draw lessons to
inform planning of priorities for the following years.

The
agenda will be driven by county governments covering both retrospective and
prospective aspects based on results, lessons, most significant changes,
contextual changes, and perceived benefits to inform recommendations for course
correction.

As
the economic status of Kenya moves to a middle-income country, there is an
associated reduction in donor funding. The challenging fiscal environment means
that prospects for increased resource allocation to nutrition are limited and
that domestic resources need to be mobilized for significant achievements in
reducing undernutrition.

Speaking
during the technical meeting, Dr. Bashir Isaak, Head, of the Department of
Family Health, Ministry of Health, said that partners like Nutrition
International are critical for the Government in achieving key the
implementation of key nutrition strategies like the Kenya Nutrition Action Plan
(KNAP) 2018–2022. This is an evidence-based five-year strategic action plan
that seeks to address malnutrition in Kenya in all its forms and for all
population groups. He noted that finances pose a great challenge for both the
national and county governments in implementing strategic nutrition plans and
strategies.

 “I am happy to learn that since 2019,
Nutrition International in partnership with government ministries and county
governments have been developing a novel financing model dedicated to
delivering more money and better nutrition outcomes at scale at the county
level where service delivery happens. The counties represented here today are
among the forerunners for this catalytic matched funding mechanism for
nutrition to accelerate progress towards delivery of nutrition targets and
impact on broader health, nutrition, and economic development outcomes. I take
note that the co-funding facility has resulted in prioritization and investment
in high-impact nutrition interventions,” said Dr. Bashir Isaak.

Martha
Nyagaya, County Director, of Nutrition International, stated that Nutrition
International will continue to work in close partnership with the county and
national governments in supporting them in making faster progress on nutritional
requirements both at the county and national levels.

“Nutrition
International (NI), is a key partner of the Government of Kenya and works
closely with the government in its efforts to deliver low-cost, high-impact,
nutrition interventions to people in need. Our partnership has included
providing technical and financial assistance. While NI’s direct support for
nutrition at the county level is one of the largest, it can only cover a small
percentage of required interventions for the entire population,” said Martha
Nyagaya.

In
2013, Kenya transitioned to the devolved system of governance, giving
considerable budgetary autonomy to the 47 counties in determining how they
plan, budget, allocate and spend funding from national government transfers as
well as locally raised revenue. County governments are also responsible for
translating national nutrition and health policies and strategies into county
priorities and plans.

Since
2019, Nutrition International has been developing the first-ever financing vehicle
dedicated to delivering more money and better nutrition outcomes at scale in
County or Sub-national levels where services are delivered. We have introduced
a catalytic matched funding mechanism for nutrition to accelerate progress
towards delivery of nutrition targets and impact on broader health, nutrition,
and economic development outcomes in 11 counties.

In
2013, Kenya transitioned to a devolved system of governance, giving
considerable budgetary autonomy to the 47 counties in determining how they
plan, budget, allocate, and spend funding from national government transfers as
well as locally raised revenue. County governments are also responsible for
translating national nutrition, health policies, and strategies into county
priorities and plans.

Kenya
is losing Ksh. 374 billion each year due to malnutrition; 45% of preventable
childhood deaths are linked to malnutrition as an underlying cause. Feeding is
a major risk factor contributing to increased micronutrient deficiencies,
morbidity, and mortality among women and children in Kenya.

Makueni,
Vihiga, Nandi, Elgeyo Marakwet, Kajiado, Embu, Bomet, Murang’a, Kiambu, Busia,
and Nakuru are among the 11 counties benefitting from this cross-county
learning program. Out of the 11 counties, four counties are in the third year
of program implementation, while seven counties are in the second fiscal year
based on the government calendar year.

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