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Twenty-six percent of Kenya children under age five 'malnourished'

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Twenty-six percent of children under age five in Kenya are malnourished, down from 35 percent in 2008, the Ministry of Health said on Thursday.

The head of nutrition and dietetics in the Health Ministry, Gladys Mugambi, told a health forum in Nairobi that the reduction in malnutrition rates was due to promotion of breast milk feeding for mothers with infants.

"Breast milk provides all the necessary nutrients to ensure that babies avoid being malnourished," Mugambi said during the launch of a nationwide awareness campaign to fight malnutrition.

Mugambi said that 11 percent of children under the age of five were underweight, down from eight percent in 2008.

The Ministry of Health is partnering with the UN World Food Programme (WFP) to ensure that even mothers in remote areas of Kenya access nutritious meals for their children.

Kenya has also enacted a national policy on nutrition and food security that guides the country on ways to reduce the levels of malnutrition.

The policy ensures that the government provides support to pregnant and lactating mothers to access nutritious foods.

Mugambi said that the government had being increasing health budget annually in the past decade.

"This has provided funding for public awareness campaigns on the benefits of good nutrition," she said.

Mugambi said that all health facilities countrywide were required to have nutrition departments with skilled personnel to guide mothers on the correct diet to feed their children.

She said that the government had also partnered with the private sector to encourage them to fortify common staple foods such as maize with vital micro-nutrients.



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