Call for Appropriate Emergency Interventions in Kisumu County

By Treezer Michelle Atieno

Concerns have been raised by nutritionists in Kisumu County regarding the appropriateness and quality of food and medicine donations during emergencies. Moniya Oyanga Wanjir, Kisumu Central Nutrition Coordinator has emphasized the importance of providing age-appropriate food and formula milk during crises, particularly directing attention to the needs of breastfeeding mothers.

Wanjir highlighted a critical aspect of emergency aid, stating, “Formula milk donated during emergencies should not be for breastfeeding children; instead, the mothers should be fed so they can have milk for their young ones.”

Expressing gratitude to pharmaceutical companies and other donors, Ms. Wanjir has acknowledged the often insufficient supplies and short expiry periods of donations. She stressed the importance of supporting breastfeeding mothers, especially if the child is under six months old, despite the challenges posed by emergencies. Furthermore, she has called on donors to seek segregated data on affected individuals, enabling more informed and tailored interventions.

The concerns raised by Ms. Wanjir coincide with ongoing Maternal Infants and Young Child Nutrition in Emergency (MIYCN-e) training in Kisumu. Facilitated by the Ministry of Health and the Kenya Red Cross Society, with support from UNICEF, this training addresses the critical need for effective emergency response strategies, particularly in the face of current challenges such as floods.

The MIYCN-e training, led by Mrs. Angeline Korir and Mr. Daniel Kimathi, aims to equip nutritionists, agri-nutritionists, nurses, and public health officers with the necessary knowledge to assess and respond to maternal, infant, and young child nutrition during emergencies. As floods continue to claim lives and wreak havoc in vulnerable areas of Kisumu, this training becomes even more timely.

The MIYCN-e-assessment conducted during emergencies plays a pivotal role in understanding the impact of MIYCN practices and determining the most at-risk individuals. This assessment informs strategic decisions, supports resource mobilization, establishes baseline data, and evaluates program effectiveness. Additionally, it provides insights into how humanitarian needs vary across different affected groups, identifying gaps in local or national capacity to respond.

Emphasizing the importance of early MIYCN-e assessment, the program seeks factors indicating infants and young children are at increased risk. It examines the distribution of infant formula, breastfeeding difficulties faced by mothers, and issues related to complementary feeding. This thorough assessment is crucial for preventing inappropriate interventions and addressing emerging challenges effectively.

The ongoing MIYCN-e training is a significant step toward building the capacity of healthcare professionals to respond effectively to nutritional needs during crises. By ensuring that aid is not only timely but also appropriate.

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