KENYA – Stakeholders at the 2nd Kenya National Food fortification summit have emphasized the importance of concerted effort and multi-sectoral approaches to increase food fortification efforts for a nourished country.

The summit running under the theme: “Creating an Enabling Environment for Food Fortification in Kenya” was organized to assess the progress made compared to challenges that were highlighted during the 2018 summit.

As the stakeholders reflected on the milestones made since the first summit held in 2018, the summit established a number of key achievements through the Kenya National Food Fortification Alliance.

These gains include effective implementation of Universal Salt Iodization Programme with over 99% of households using adequately iodized salt thus reducing goiter prevalence to less than 6%.

 The alliance also led to the development and implementation of fortification guidelines and regulatory framework.

It also managed to register premix suppliers and establish a food fortification database.

Chief Administrative Secretary, Dr Rashid Abdi Aman, appreciated the organizers of the summit saying, food fortification is a proven, safe and cost-effective strategy for improving diets and the prevention and control of micronutrient deficiencies.

“We need to support food fortification strategy in the country due to its nutritional sustainability and its potential to reach wider population coverage without changes in existing dietary patterns,” said, Dr Aman who represented the Cabinet Secretary of Health, Mutahi Kagwe.

Dr Aman pointed out that although there has been good progress in the food fortification initiatives, more needs to be done, adding that combined efforts are required in eliminating micronutrient deficiencies for sustainable development.

 He stressed that the resolutions will be integral in bagging a fortification commitment at the United Nation Food System Summit (FSS) and the Nutrition Growth Summit (N4G) to be held in September and December this year, respectively.

While commending the European Union for backing the country’s fortification programme, JKUAT-EU Funded Food Fortification Project Coordinator, Prof. Daniel Sila said, JKUAT in collaboration with the Ministry of Health and other partners has implemented the programme since 2017.

“Through the Programme, we have been able to establish a database on food fortification that will be instrumental in informing policy and implementation,” said Prof. Sila.

Prof Sila also highlighted that the programme has built the food fortification capacity of 156 maize millers and 270 public health officers across the country strengthening the regulatory efforts of food fortification in the country.

He further informed the participants that the Programme has established a food fortification reference laboratory at JKUAT, to lift local capacity to monitor and evaluate the level of compliance of different fortified food products to the national standards.

The programme is funded to the tune of Ksh 350 million (USD $ 3,242,241.77) by the European Union to reinforce Kenya’s efforts to fortify staple foods and improve the health and nutritional status of the poor and vulnerable groups.

The stakeholders recommended that dialogue on food fortification should trickle down to the counties with actionable execution tactics to eradicate malnutrition in the country.