The Kaduna State Government has planned to reach 70 per cent of adolescent, pregnant and lactating women with key maternal nutrition intervention by 2021, to reverse the disturbing nutrition indices in the state.
This is according to a state Strategic Plan for Maternal Infant and Young Child Nutrition (MIYCN) 2018 to 2022, presented at the Quarterly MIYCN Technical Working Group (TWG) meeting in Kaduna.
The state also planned to ensure that 50 per cent of children from six to 23 months received minimum acceptable diet and 80 per cent of mothers, infants and young children received specific nutrition interventions.
Other targets include 50 per cent of six to 23 months old children have access to adequate complementary feeding and 50 per cent of mothers practice exclusive breastfeeding in emergency situations.
The co-Chair of the TWG, Dr Hadiza Balarabe, Executive Secretary, Kaduna State Primary Health Care Development Agency, said adequate provision of nutrients in early stages of life was crucial for sound maternal and child health.
Balarabe, who was represented by Dr Neyu Iliyaus, Director Primary Healthcare Services, equally described MIYCN strategy as crucial for maternal child health and survival.
According to her, adequate maternal, infant and young child nutrition is fundamental foundation for the successful outcome of pregnancy, lactation and healthy development of the mother and the child.
She said Nigeria and Kaduna state in particular have a disturbing indices of malnutrition among children from zero to five years.
She also identified the underlying problems of malnutrition as poor maternal nutrition, low infant and young child feeding (IYCF) practices, inadequate health services, and limited access to nutritious foods.
“Therefore, the critical window of opportunity for improving child nutrition is from pregnancy through the first 24 months of life. Optimal infant and young child feeding is particularly crucial from birth to two years of age in order to ensure and support healthy growth and cognitive development. In addition to prevention of common childhood diseases such as gastroenteritis, breastfeeding and safe complementary feeding provide the strong foundation for the prevention of non-communicable diseases in the subsequent years of childhood and adulthood,” Balarabe added.
Earlier, the Nutrition Advocacy Adviser, Save the Children International, Malam Isa Ibrahim noted that malnutrition continues to pose serious challenge to the productivity, cognitive ability and health of children, women of reproductive age and adolescent girls.
Ibrahim noted that because the effects were not always obvious to the individuals, communities and government institutions, not much resource and time were being accorded to address the issue.
He said the objective of the meeting was to share the final copy of the State MIYCN strategy with the members of the Technical Working Group and review the group terms of reference.
He equally said the meeting was organised to identify priority activities for second quarter from the MIYCN roll out plan, and mobilise funds for implementation of the identified activities.
“We also want to identify emerging challenges and opportunities of MIYCN and nutrition in general programming in the state. Now that the strategy has been adopted, the main concern is how best to implement the strategy for optimal result,” he said.