Today, nearly half of children born in urban and a quarter of those born in rural Kenya are likely to suffer brain and spinal cord defects due to folate (Vitamin B9) deficiency. Moreover, about a third of children are at risk of blindness due to Vitamin A deficiency while 22 per cent are predisposed to anaemia due to iron deficiency.
Food fortification in Kenya dates back to 1970s with iodization of salt which led to decline in prevalence of goitre. Over time, fortification has evolved to include other food vehicles (maize flour, wheat flour, sugar, fats and oils). In 2006, the Kenya National FoodFortification Alliance was established.
The effectiveness of fortification programmes has been determined through various studies and experiences. In Kenya for instance, mandatory iodization of salt has led to almost complete elimination of goiter in the population. In Canada, mandatory fortification of cereals led to a reduction in brain and spinal cord defects by 46 per cent.