KENYA – The Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN) is spearheading efforts to fortify food standards in five selected counties, to combat the challenge of micronutrient deficiency prevalent among the Kenyan population.

This was revealed during the 3rd Kenya National Food Fortification Summit held in February.

With the theme “Celebrating a Decade of Food Fortification in Kenya: Shaping the Future through Innovation and Partnership,” the summit aimed to review past achievements, address current challenges, and outline future innovations in food fortification.

Speaking at the summit, Leila Odhiambo, Deputy Head of the Division of Nutrition and Dietetics at the Ministry of Health, said that food fortification can be carried out by food manufacturers, or by governments as a public health policy which aims to reduce the number of people with dietary deficiencies within a population level.

She highlighted the four chosen food vehicles for fortification, including salt, wheat, and maize flour, fats, and oils, which play a pivotal role in reducing dietary deficiencies at a population level.

“Food fortification is the process of adding micronutrients to food. We have chosen four food vehicles for fortification and this includes salt where iodine is added, wheat and maize flour which has seven vitamins and nine minerals, and vitamin A in fats and oils,” Odhiambo said.

She emphasized that food fortification is mandatory and that there is a regulation under Cap 254 of the Constitution of Kenya, this is an Act of Parliament under food fortification.

The Government, she added, is also working with industries to ensure that the staple food is fortified to help the population in the medium term, access micronutrients.

Ruth Okowa, GAIN Kenya Country Director, emphasized the crucial role of public health officers in Kiambu, Mombasa, Nyandarua, Nakuru, and Nairobi Counties, in the allocation of resources to forestall compliance standards on food safety and fortification.

Okowa stressed the importance of collaboration with national and county governments to enforce mandatory food fortification requirements.

“We are working closely with the National and County governments to heighten fortification surveillance in line with the mandatory food fortification requirement”, she said.

Emphasizing the need for decentralized actions, she highlighted the significance of supporting public health officers and industry players in data management for informed decision-making.

According to the report, GAIN is not only working with counties but also aiding in the formulation of food safety and fortification policies to enhance surveillance and resource allocation.

Charles Opiyo, Head of Policy and Advocacy at GAIN, urged stakeholders to collaborate through national and county alliances to ensure progress in fortification efforts.

Recognizing food and nutrition as a basic right, enshrined in the Kenyan Constitution, efforts like the launch of a national food fortification reference laboratory by Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology further underscore the commitment to combat malnutrition.

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