What is Malezi Bora Campaign?
Malezi Bora is a Swahili word which means “good upbringing”. It is a special activity carried out twice every year in Kenya to advocate for better health and nutrition for mothers and their children. The campaign period is also referred to as Malezi Bora weeks. Malezi Bora campaigns were started in 2007 by the Ministry of Public Health and Sanitation in partnership with the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF).
The campaign focuses on:
- Giving Vitamin A to all children aged between six months and under 5 years to boost their immunity.
- Providing deworming tablets to all children aged 12-59 months.
- Screening all children of six to 59 months for acute malnutrition using a Mid-Upper Arm Circumference (MUAC) tape.
- Identification and referral of any cases of malnutrition for treatment.
How is the campaign carried out in Kalobeyei settlement, Kakuma and Dadaab (Dagahaley, Ifo, Hagadera) refugee camps?
Health workers move from door-to-door to find children aged six to 59 months in every household.
- In Hagadera camp, the campaign is conducted by International Rescue Committee (IRC) healthcare workers.
- In Ifo, health officials from the Kenya Red Cross Society carry out the campaign across the blocks.
- In Dagahaley camp, Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) conducts the Malezi Bora Campaign.
- In Kakuma 1, 3 and 4, the campaign is conducted by IRC healthcare workers Health officials from African Inland Church (AIC) Health Ministries spearhead the campaign in Kakuma 2.
- In Kalobeyei, the campaign is run by Kenya Red Cross Society (KRCS) and AIC Health Ministries health officials.
- Members of the host community surrounding Hagadera camp can also go to Borehole 5 and Alinjugur Health Centre for Malezi Bora services.
- In Kakuma, members of the host community can get Malezi Bora services from public health facilities like Turkana West Sub-County hospital.
How can I know when the officers are coming to my home?
All the agencies that carry out the Malezi Bora campaigns will inform the public through community and camp leaders, local radio stations, Julisha.Info, public address systems and healthcare workers.
When does the campaign happen?
Malezi Bora campaigns take place each year in the months of May and November across the country. During this period, all children of age six months to five years are given Vitamin A supplements and a deworming tablet.
What do I do if my child misses the Malezi Bora campaign?
In case your child misses out on the Malezi Bora campaign, visit the health facility nearest to you. The healthcare workers will administer the Vitamin A supplement and give deworming tablet to the child.
How does Vitamin A supplementation help a child?
Lack of Vitamin A weakens a child’s immune system. This means that the child’s body will be unable to fight common infections, putting them at a greater risk of sicknesses that could lead to death.
Vitamin A also helps to prevent factors that can lead to child blindness.
The IRC’s Healthcare worker gives Vitamin A supplement to a child
How is Vitamin A given to a child?
Vitamin A is administered as a droplet that's squeezed out of a capsule. The capsules are either blue or red in color, with the dose of Vitamin A in the blue pill being less than the dose of Vitamin A in the red pill. A droplet from the blue capsule is given to children aged six to 11 months, and the red capsule’s droplet is only given to children aged 12-59 months.
Vitamin A red and blue capsules.Photo courtesy of UNICEF
Is Vitamin A supplement safe for children?
Yes, it is. Vitamin A protects children from diseases such as diarrhoea, acute respiratory infections, and helps to prevent death.
To ensure children get enough Vitamin A, provide foods such as spinach, carrots, sweet potatoes, mangoes, eggs and milk.
Why are deworming tablets given to children?
During Malezi Bora, children aged between one to five years are given deworming tablets to kill worms found in the children’s body. Worms contribute to the development of malnutrition in children’s bodies. By ensuring your child receives the deworming tablet, you help to improve their overall health and prevent malnutrition.
Why do they take measurements of a child’s upper arm?
The measurement of the width of a child’s upper arm is a standard practice that helps the health officers carrying out the Malezi Bora campaign to identify malnutrition in children. This is done by carefully capturing the Mid Upper Arm Circumference (MUAC) measurements of children aged between six months and 59 months using a colored tape that that is wrapped around the child’s left upper arm. The tape is a special tool used to take the measurements of a child’s upper arm to determine the child’s nutrition status.
A child’s MUAC measurements. Green reading on the tape means the child is well nourished.
What do the colors on the MUAC tape mean?
The tape used to take the measurements color-coded to show the levels of malnutrition in young children.
MUAC Tape Sample. Photo courtesy of UNICEF
RED color means that the child has severe malnutrition and should be referred to hospital for treatment immediately.
YELLOW color means that the child is has moderate malnutrition and should be referred to hospital for nutrition supplements such as plumpy sup.
GREEN color means that the child is well nourished.
Graphic: Common characteristics of malnutrition in children
What help is offered to malnourished children?
- Children with severe or moderate malnutrition receive treatment fit to their nutritional and medical needs. Such children are identified from the community and started on treatment for malnutrition.
- In Dadaab, parents or guardians support the treatment for most children with severe acute malnutrition and moderate malnutrition at their homes by using Ready-to-Use-Therapeutic Foods (RUTF) and routine medical care. RUTF is made using peanut butter, milk, sugar, vegetable oil, minerals and vitamins.
- In Kakuma children with severe malnutrition are given Ready-to-Use Therapeutic Foods (RUTF), while children with moderate malnutrition are given Ready-to-Use Supplementary Food (RUSF) to supplement the food they use daily.
- Ready-to-Use Therapeutic Foods (RUTF) and Ready-to-Use Supplementary Food (RUSF) are high in energy and protein to support the malnourished child to recover and gain weight. These supplements should be used as they are with no cooking, mixing, or dilution.
When necessary, severely malnourished children who have medical complications or lack an appetite are referred to in-patient facilities for more intensive treatment.
Plumpy Sup and Plump nut, examples of RUSF and RUTF supplements that are given to children with malnutrition.
Do you have any questions about the Malezi Bora Campaign? Please write to us via the Julisha.Info Facebook page, Monday to Friday from 08:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.