Creating an enabling environment for food fortification in Kenya
The Kenyan Ministry of Health’s Division of Nutrition and Dietetics held its second Food Fortification Summit in June. The summit, organised by the Ministry of Health in collaboration with the European Union, Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT), the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN), and Nutrition International, provided an opportunity for stakeholders to review progress in the national food fortification programme, and follow up on actions proposed during the last summit in 2018. Participants comprised government ministers, academia, development partners, consumer organisations, civil society, and the private sector.
Key topics included the role of local government in raising consumer awareness of the benefits of eating fortified foods, and ensuring compliance with national fortification standards. The summit also provided a platform to share best practices, which will feed into dialogue at the United Nations Food Systems Summit, and the global Nutrition for Growth Summit, to be held later this year.
The Kenyan government has partnered with industry and academia to create a robust food fortification infrastructure to reduce micronutrient deficiencies among the population, particularly children and women of reproductive age. The fortification of pre-packaged maize flour, wheat flour, salt, and vegetable oils and fats is now mandatory throughout the country.
During the summit, the government launched its Food Fortification Database, and training guidelines for Public Health Officers. GAIN led a commitment-making process wherein millers committed to scaling up compliance to fortification; premix suppliers committed to improving product quality and support to industry players; academia committed to focussing on research; civil society organisations committed to supporting government capacity; and the government committed to strengthening implementation of the National Food Fortification Strategic Plan 2018-2022.
Health Chief Administrative Secretary Rashid Aman said, ‘As we take stock of the progress made in food fortification, let us remember that staple food fortification is widely
recognized as a “best buy” development and public health intervention with significant economic returns through averted diseases, enhanced productivity and improved incomes.’
The EU, with technical support from 2FAS, has supported Kenya’s national food fortification programme since January 2017, by providing assistance to JKUAT to strengthen the legal structure and governance for food fortification, to capacitate medium- and small-scale maize mills to fortify their products, and to spread consumer awareness on the health benefits of fortified foods.
Stakeholders from government ministries, academia, international organisations, consumer organisations, civil society and the private sector attended Kenya’s National Food Fortification Summit.