By Philip Yatai
The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), has pledged continued provision of nutrition supplies and technical support to Kaduna State Government in boosting nutrition services to women and children.
Dr Zakari Adam, Chief of Field of Office, UNICEF Kaduna, made the pledge on Tuesday at the opening of a one-day review meeting with Local Government Areas’ (LGAs) Nutrition Focal Persons.
Adam, who was represented by UNICEF Nutrition Specialist, Mrs Chinwe Ezeife, said that the technical support was critical to providing quality nutrition services to women and children.
He said that the agency had already supplied adequate quantities of Vitamin A capsules and deworming tablets for the forthcoming Vitamin A Supplementation (VAS) in July.
Adam said that in addition to the matching grant for Ready-To-Use Therapeutic Food (RUTF), UNICEF had also supplied 300 cartons of RUTF worth about N5 million.
According to him, this is to increase coverage of treatment of children from six to 59 months with Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM), especially with the outbreak of Coronavirus pandemic.
He noted that the agency had also been providing technical support to nutrition focal persons and officers in-charge in health facilities for quality service delivery.
“In spite the significant improvement recorded in the last five years, the state has remained among the 14 out of the 36 states with disturbing nutrition indices.
“In response to this poor nutrition indices, the government has been implementing cost effective, high impact, preventive and curative nutrition programmes.
“These programmes are Community Infant and Young Child Feeding (CIYCF), Community Management of Acute Malnutrition (CMAM), VAS and deworming of children across the 23 LGAs in the state,” the chief of field said.
Adam further said that CIYCF programme was being implemented in 20 LGAs in collaboration with development partners, civil society organisations and NGOs, stressing the need for statewide coverage.
He said that the emphasis of CIYCF was on early initiation of breastfeeding, exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life, and adequate complementary feeding from six months while continuing breastfeeding.
“The CMAM approach emphasises the importance of the community in the management of severe acute malnutrition.
“The key components include early detection of cases of malnutrition in communities and treatment at health facilities with full participation of mothers and other care givers.
“Currently, the CMAM programme is fully operational in 15 out of the 23 LGAs of the state while providing full-fledged Outpatient Therapeutic Programme (OTP) services.
“There is the need to scale up these services in all the 23 LGAs to ease access to treatment and improve the health status of women and children.” Adam said.
The UNICEF boss also said that the bi-annual VAS and deworming of children implemented during the Maternal Newborn and Child Health (MNCH) Week, was significantly reducing childhood illnesses.
He pointed out that the success of any programme was dependant on quality supervision, monitoring, data quality, supplies and provision of critical commodities.
He therefore urged the state and local governments to allocate and release funds for procurement of critical nutrition commodities and supplies.