Nutrition Status and Associated Morbidity Risk Factors among Orphanage and Non-Orphanage Children in Selected Public Primary Schools within Dagoretti, Nairobi, Kenya

  • EW Mwaniki
  • AN Mokokha
  • JN Muttunga


Background: Most of the nutritional surveys that have been carried out in Kenya have concentrated on children aged five years and below who are under the care of their parent(s). The HIV/AIDS, conflict, natural disasters, endemic diseases such as malaria and tuberculosis and rising poverty has claimed the health and lives of millions of productive adults, leaving their children orphaned and vulnerable. This has led to mushrooming of orphanages to take care of these orphans and vulnerable children in Kenya.
Objective: Compare the nutrition status and associated risk factors of primary school children living in orphanages and those not living in orphanages in selected public primary schools in Dagoretti Division, Nairobi.
Design: Descriptive cross sectional survey.
Setting: Four public primary schools in Dagoretti Division. Data were collected from school registers and directly questioning the students, parents /guardians or caretakers.
Subjects: Four hundred and sixteen, four to eleven year olds randomly selected orphanage and non-orphanage children who attended the same primary school.
Results: The orphanage children had a significantly higher rate of stunting and underweight (p< 0.05) than the non-orphanage children. The  orphanage children had also a significantly higher rate of morbidity (p<0.05) than the non-orphanage children. The orphanage children were more than three times more likely to take inadequate calories compared to the non-orphanage children.
Conclusions: The main factors associated with the higher rate of  malnutrition among orphanage children were high morbidity rate,  inadequate amounts and diversity of foods served, low rates of vaccination and basic hygiene.

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