Nutrition International’s Country Director in Kenya, Martha Nyagaya

Country Director for Nutrition International in Kenya says Covid-19 pandemic is risking essential services and many key nutrition interventions just cannot wait.

Martha Nyagaya tells Journalists at the Global Nutrition and Food Security Reporting program that nutrition must be central across the response, resilience building, and recovery phases.

“We cannot wait for ‘treatment’ we must focus on ‘prevention’ as well.” Nyagaya indicates.

According to 2020 global nutrition report, 1 in 3 people are malnourished. Madam Nyagaya says COVID is exacerbating high pre-existing rates of malnutrition.

“Over 1 Billion people globally were malnourished prior to COVID-19. The pandemic has made more people malnourished and put millions of vulnerable people at risk.”

Nutrition can't wait because of Covid-19 pandemic - Nutrition International Country Director

According to Madam Nyagaya, if COVID’s impacts on nutrition are left unchecked, the health and wellbeing of millions of the world’s most vulnerable people will be compromised, and the hard-won development gains of the past decade lost.

Speaking on the topic The Urgency of Investing in Nutrition Amid the Pandemic, the Chair of the SUN Civil Society Alliance says the economic costs and consequences of the pandemic may leave up to 80 million people malnourished and the number of people suffering from acute food insecurity could double to 270 million.

“Inaction is not an option,” she says. Madam Nyagaya wants immediate action be taken.

Without immediate action by 2022, 2.1 million more anaemic pregnant women would be recorded and 9.3 million more children will suffer from wasting.

“2.6 million more children will suffer from stunting and 168,000 deaths of children under five may be recorded,” she added.

She wants the involvement of not just the department of health, but stakeholders from finance, agriculture, education, water, gender, community development and assemblies to ensure nutrition is prioritized and resourced.

The nutrition international’s country director for Kenya also wants priority Actions like delivery of high-impact, low-cost nutrition interventions with a focus on women, girls and children, make nutrition a pillar of every phase of the COVID-19 response and recovery and integrate nutrition into non-nutrition platforms and sectors like education and WASH.

Nutrition can't wait because of Covid-19 pandemic - Nutrition International Country Director

The rest are to ensure food systems, social protection programs and nutrition work together to improve diets, nutrition and health among others.

About 110 Journalists across the world are participating in the international Centre For Journalist’s Global Nutrition and Food Security Reporting program. 

The first phase of our program was launched in the second week of June with a series of Webinars.

It is a partnership between International Center for Journalists and Eleanor Crook Foundation in the fight against global malnutrition, to launch a new reporting fellowship program. 

The programme seeks to help journalists in the U.S. and around the world gain a better understanding of Covid-19’s impacts on global hunger, malnutrition, and food security as well as opportunities to increase resilience for the most vulnerable populations in a post-pandemic world.