Counties in western Kenya have embraced an innovative approach to curb child mortality in the area.
Through Lake Region Economic Bloc (LREB), the 14 counties have signed commitment to operationalize the approach baptised Nurturing Care for Early Childhood Development (NCfECD).
The multisectoral approach will see the counties share experiences and skills in nurturing children from conception, in a concept known as Smart Start.
The counties are; Kisumu, Siaya, Homa Bay, Migori, Kisii, Nyamira, Kakamega, Vihiga, Busia, Bungoma, Nandi, Bomet and Kericho.
Our role is basically catalytic because we are bringing evidence confirming that the model works and also advocating for investmentMonica Ogutu
Dr Gregory Ganda, Kisumu County Health Executive Member said the first 1000 days of life are critical in the survival of children, hence require specialised care.
“Health is everything, especially when given the needed attention as early as possible,” he said.
He noted that the multi sectoral approach will help the initiative through learning from each counties’ successes and challenges.
The NCfECD is a global initiative spearheaded by the World Health Organization (WHO) and implemented by member countries.
Kisumu Medical and Education Trust (KMET) is the program’s leading implementing partner in the region since 2018
“Our role is basically catalytic because we are bringing evidence confirming that the model works and also advocating for investment,” said Monica Ogutu, KMET Executive Director.
Ogutu noted that the goal is ensuring that all children aged zero to eight years not only survive but thrive and develop to their full potential.
Roles of First Ladies
First Ladies of the 14 LREB Counties will be leading the promotion of the initiative of the member counties.
The announcement was made in a recent forum attended by first ladies; Agnes Ochillo-Migori, Emily Nyaribo-Nyamira, Seline Otuoma-Busia, Betty Mutai-Kericho, Dorothy Nyong’o-Kisumu, Betty Orengo-Siaya, Prof. Janet Barasa-Kakamega and First Gentleman George Wanga of Homa Bay.
Emily Nyaribo, Nyamira County First Lady noted that through the multisectoral approach, the project will succeed.
“We held this summit to be taught so that we can implement it in our counties, so far it has been implemented in seven counties,” Nyaribo said.
Some of the nurturing care components focus on the health and well being of the children and their caregivers.
Health is everything, especially when given the needed attention as early as possibleDr Ganda
The counties are expected to implement the components through pushing for essential newborn care including Kangaroo care for small babies.
They will also work closely with caregivers to prevent and treat childhood illness and caregiver physical and mental health problems.
Another component is adequate nutrition which touches on the nutritional status of the mother during pregnancy.
In addition, it touches on the safety and security in terms physical dangers, emotional stress and environmental risks, providing opportunities for early learning responsive care-giving which is the ability of the caregiver/parent to notice, understand and respond to their child’s signals in a timely and appropriate manner.