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Fortification of foods to improve Health
Our laid down plans to create a better life for our families, our communities and our business all make the basic assumption that we are on good health. Moreover, good nutrition is the foundation for good health. Nutrition determines our capacity to grow, to learn, gives the energy to work and the motivation to be innovative. In other words, good nutrition is the key to achieve full human potential.
In Kenya, over eighty percent of our children under five years do not eat adequate amounts of Vitamin A. Almost 60 percent of these children are anaemic because they do not consume adequate amounts of Iron.
It is for these reasons that the ministry of health is spearheading the fortification of our main staple foods with vitamins and minerals, to increase access of key essential nutrients by the Kenyan Population.This we believe can be done in a relatively short period of time, because our food Industry has the capacity to apply fortification technologies, while the Kenya Bureau of Standards has an outstanding track record in monitoring the safety of these foods.
The comprehensive Africa Agricultural development programme (CAADP), prepared under the auspices of NEPAD and recently adopted by African Heads of States highlights the urgent need to reduce hunger and malnutrition and improve food security in order to achieve Africa’s growth and development goals as reflected in the first millennium development goal (MDG).
Improving the quality and diversity of the typical diets is an essential element of this strategy, given the limited rage of nutrients in the diets of most people. Fortification of commercially processed foods with essential vitamins and minerals forms an integral part of this strategy.
Increasing access to micronutrient rich foods will also contribute to reaching MDG 4: reducing infant and child mortality and MDG 5, which is to improve maternal health. Vitamin A reduces infant mortality by up to 23 percent.
An estimated 1000 women of reproductive age die annually in pregnancy and childbirth due to severe iron deficiency anaemia. Iron deficiency anaemia also leads to lowered productivity of adult work force resulting in an estimated GDP loss of 0.8 percent. There is also significant but unmeasured burden on health issues services, education systems, and on families caring for the children left disabled or impaired.
The private sector, small or large has a fundamental and critical role to play in fortification. Only industry has the products, the technology, and the management and marketing skills to fortifying staple foods and reach consumers. I wish to thank the one’s that are already fortifying their products for their greater commitment and sense of responsibility towards our Children and Women.