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A mother’s constant worry is that of her child’s health. For the society, children are its future hope and leaders.

It’s sad to see children who are suffering from illness caused by malnutrition and worse, hunger live in the same country with few who can access proper food anytime.

Every infant and child has the right to good nutrition according to the Convention on the Rights of the Child. But, do all infants and children have the luxury to enjoy this right?

When a child is born, he or she needs to be kept healthy with good nutrition like his/her mother. That is not a usual thing in our country.

When a new-born is diagnosed with malnutrition, the parents have to take all measures to ensure that the child gets healthy. If not, then the child may die or be disabled when growing up.

Malnutrition is one of the challenges that most countries in this world face. This is a highly salient issue in Kenya, which is among the 20 countries that account for 80% of the world’s chronically undernourished children.

The constitution of Kenya recognizes nutrition as a human right. Good nutrition and a healthy environment do not only apply to children but also the mothers. Expecting and lactating mothers have to be well nourished so as to prevent a child being malnourished. For a child and mother to have access to good nutrition, food must be available and adequate. That is adequate intake of nutrients such as iron, folic acid and iodine on development of the brain and nervous system of the child.

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Most of us usually assume that a child is not supposed to have a certain type of food. Mothers have to know what kind of nutrient-rich food they require for the betterment of both themselves and their children. The level of maternal nutrition during pregnancy can affect the new-born’s body size and composition. A great worry is its damage to the brain besides cases of extreme physical and mental retardation.

Convincing mothers to adequately breast-feed their children who are less than 5 years old needs to be encouraged more. Most of the time, young children do not reach to 5 years of breast-feeding but mothers need to try as much as they can since through breastfeeding, a child gains sufficient nutrients that boost immunity. Still, breastfeeding can reduce malnutrition and dehydration caused by diarrhoea.

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A healthy environment is also needed for the development of the child which includes safe water, sanitation and good hygiene practices. Cleanliness plays a significant role to the children’s growth development and nourishment. As he or she grows up, if the child is exposed to unhygienic surroundings or unclean water and improper sanitation, she or he will be prone to worm infestation, diarrhoea and vomiting thus contributing malnutrition.

A great percentage of our country is semi-arid. In this case, it means that the people living in such hostile places are facing food shortage. Courtesy of such conditions, children suffer from malnutrition diseases such as marasmus. Even with such realities, they can have a healthy life if they are provided with substitute nutrient-rich foods. That is, they may never have the kind of food that the cities and other food-rich areas have but they can use alternative avenues to contribute to a healthy community of children.

That said, the cultural beliefs that people have within our current society are so absurd when it comes to matters of health. Someone would rather go to a witch-doctor to have their children checked out than visiting a hospital. These backward beliefs compromise our problems further! They are the reason why the infant mortality rate is still high.

All in all, it is the responsibility of the government to end hunger and improve nutrition of its people.  It must be reiterated that this can only be achieved in the presence of sustained support for strategies that promote good maternal nutrition, breastfeeding, appropriate nutrient-rich foods, early detection and management of illness, improved water, sanitation and hygiene conditions.

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