Provision of vitamin a through utilization of local food materials in rural parts of western Kenya
High prevalence and the negative consequences of the deficiencies resulting from inadequate intake of iron, iodine and vitamin A have resulted in focused global efforts to alleviate them. Vitamin A deficiency which has serious consequences can be prevented by consumption of vitamin A rich foods. This study was undertaken to determine the viability of locally available foods in providing vitamin A to the impoverished populations in rural areas of Kenya. A cross-sectional survey was carried out in Butere-Mumias District of Western Province, Kenya from December 2003 to February 2004. The study compared the potential contribution of local foods to the provision of vitamin A, to the diets of children aged 12-71 months in the two divisions of Butere and Khwisero, as based on the Helen Keller International (HKI) method. Vitamin A rich foods consumed in the two study areas are dark green leafy vegetables, kales, papaya margarine, orange/yellow fleshed sweet potatoes, eggs and ripe mangoes. Butere and Khwisero divisions where the study was conducted are adjacent to each other. Butere division had an ongoing nutrition intervention project to promote African leafy vegetables, while Khwisero division did not. Of the 16 clusters surveyed, consumption of vitamin A was insufficient in the six of the eight communities in Butere, and three of the eight communities, in Khwisero. The frequency of consumption of vitamin A-rich foods in the study area fell below the threshold values of the HKI Method. Consumption of these foods was not regular as planting was done on an ad hoc basis especially in Khwisero division in areas which were not reached by the on-going campaign in the Butere division. Vitamin A deficiency was most likely a public health problem in the two divisions. This study recommends increased activities in the area to control vitamin A deficiency, prophylactic vitamin A supplementation and efforts to increase vitamin A consumption.
KEY WORDS Vitamin A deficiency, Vitamin A-rich foods, Helen Keller Method, African dark
green leafy vegetables
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