Archive for November, 2009

Food and Nutrition Security for people living with HIV/AIDS.

Empowering local communities to achieve food and nutrition security in a sustainable way and with social dignity is one of the key missions of Necofa.  Household food security requires that a household has access to enough quality and culturally acceptable food for all people in the home throughout the year. The right to quality food is a human right. 

While many Kenyan families are struggling with challenges of poverty, food and nutrition insecurity, families affected by HIV/AIDS are more prone and vulnerable. They are faced with extra responsibility of taking care and feeding the infected person(s) who also require even more nutritional attention. Malnutrition and HIV/AIDS are synergetic and together create vicious cycle that additively weakens the immune system. 

Necofa and Slow Food Central Rift Convivium thus decided to conduct a survey in Molo  district to better understand the food and nutrition security situation of families affected by  HIV/AIDS, and identify ways to improve their current situation.  The survey team was led by Pascale Brevet Student of the Master in Food Culture and Communication, University of Gastronomic Sciences, Colorno (Italy).

Nutrition and HIV/AIDS is not only about the impoverishment of affected families resulting in the decline in food security. Food and nutrition interventions are critical components of a comprehensive response to the HIV pandemic. HIV compromises the nutritional status of infected individuals, and malnutrition in turn can worsen the effects of the disease. Nutrition interventions can help break this cycle by helping people living with HIV manage symptoms, reduce susceptibility to opportunistic infections, improve nutritional status, promote response to medical treatment, and improve overall quality of life. 

The impact of diet on medication is complex. Food can enhance or inhibit the absorption, metabolism, distribution and excretion of medication. Sometimes it is a matter of when the food is eaten, other times it is the content of the food itself. The type of food can also influence the effectiveness of a drug. Some foods will decrease the absorption of a given drug; others will increase it. The same is true for dietary supplements, including herbal remedies and tradional medicines.

A strategy  to accelerate mainstreaming of nutritional interventions in HIV/AIDS policies and programs is required. This translates in the following two-folded approach: 

  • Sensitizing policymakers about the critical role that food and nutrition security plays.
  • Advancing nutrition and HIV/AIDS as a priority on the health agenda; identifying nutrition interventions for integration into HIV/AIDS policies and programs, and incorporating HIV/AIDS in food and nutrition policies and programs. 

Through agricultural  training, food preservation, value-addition creation, and business management skills, we  believe we’ll be able to provide the tools necessary to these families to improve their food and nutrition situation, as well as livelihood in general. “Don’t give me fish, teach me how to fish” remains the most sustainable, as well as dignifying, answer to the problems families affected by HIV/AIDS are faced with.