Saturday, 15 July 2006

Nutritional Enhancement of Life for People with HIV/AIDS in Kenya.

Eleonore Fosso Seumo and Eric Rusten. The Academy for Educational Development, 1825 Connecticut Ave NW., Washington, DC 20009-5721

By weakening the immune system, HIV/AIDS increases the vulnerability of people with HIV/AIDS to opportunistic infections and morbidity, and reduces productivity. At the onset of opportunistic infections the negative effects of the disease on individuals, households and communities is multiplied many times. One of the simplest, least expensive and most effective responses to this compound threat is to provide proper nutrition and care to people living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA). Unfortunately, strategies to effectively and affordably provide proper nutrition and care to PLWHA are not reaching those who would benefit most—the poor in rural and urban areas of Africa. The Academy for Educational Development, in partnership with World Relief, Ecology Action/Manor House and World Neighbors, is proposing to pilot an innovative initiative to address this problem for people, families and communities in urban slums of Nairobi and in rural Western Kenya. A key element of this pilot program assisting families living with HIV/AIDS in improving agricultural practices, with a focus on the biointensive system, to grow a more diverse variety of food crops and improve both household nutrition and revenue. The food crops that families would be encouraged and enabled to produce would include a mix of indigenous plants and exotic open pollinated varieties that have proven successful in small holding agriculture in Kenya. To complement new food production strategies, the pilot would also work with community health workers to help families learn new approaches to prepare these foods to optimize the preservation of vitamins, micronutrients and the overall nutritional quality of the food. In addition to having a significantly positive impact on the health and productivity of PLWHA, this pilot would also improve the general nutrition of the entire family, especially children.

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