The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), says it will support Kaduna State Government to strengthen its prevention interventions as a cost-effective measure against malnutrition.
Mrs Chinwe Ezeife, Nutrition Specialist, UNICEF Kaduna Field Office, stated this in an interview with our reporter in Kaduna on Friday.
Ezeife said that UNICEF would support accelerating the reduction of stunting by advocating for increased investment to put prevention at the centre of the government programme and consider targeted treatment when prevention fails.
She said that the support was in line with UNICEF’s Country Office paradigm shift to prevention, integration, and scale-up of nutrition services to all communities.
She commended the state government for its support, saying that the vision was to see fewer children, adolescents, and women in the state suffering from malnutrition in all its forms.
She said that the strategy, which would be piloted in all communities of Zaria Local Government Area, hopes to address stunting, wasting and anaemia through good diets, good practice, and good services.
The nutrition specialist said that the programme aims to strengthen the capacity of the government and engagement with the private sector to scale up a set of proven high-impact and multisectoral nutrition interventions.
According to her, the programme will support the state government to achieve the targets outlined in the State Policy on Food and Nutrition.
She said that UNICEF, in collaboration with the Federal and the Kaduna State Governments, would support the State Primary Health Care Board to scale up intervention in all political wards of the state.
She explained that the idea was to scale up the Community-Infant and Young Child Feeding, Maternal, Infant and Young Child Nutrition programmes, as cost-effective preventive measures to all communities in the state.
“The services include maternal, infant, and young child nutrition and care practices in the family; micronutrient supplementation; food fortification and prevention and treatment of key nutrition-related illnesses including wasting.
“The emphasis will be on the first 1,000 days of life, including enhanced support for first pregnancies and the expansion of nutritional programmes for adolescent girls.
“UNICEF will also strengthen nutrition service delivery with a particular focus on Primary Health Care and other health delivery mechanisms.
“A partnership will be formed with young people, traditional and religious leaders for social and behavioural change at individual and community levels,” she said.
Ezeife added that to address the low nutritional and food security status of the most vulnerable families, other sectors would be supported to consider cash transfer programmes for women within the social protection framework.
She also said that UNICEF would support nutritional surveillance and use of data, advocate for greater investment, and build a more robust supply chain.
“Evidence-informed, gender-responsive social and behaviour change strategies will also be developed for adolescents, parents, and caregivers to have knowledge and skills for optimal household dietary practices,” she added.
It was reported that the State Committee on Food and Nutrition had been making calls to relevant government agencies, to create budget lines to implement nutrition activities with emphasis on prevention.
Some of the ministries, departments and agencies visited include Planning and Budget Commission, Ministry of Health, Ministry of Education, and Kaduna State Agricultural Development Agency.
Others were Kaduna State Emergency Management Agency and Kaduna State Media Corporation.
The advocacy visits were supported by Civil Society Scaling Up Nutrition in Nigeria, UNICEF, Alive and Thrive, Accelerating Nutrition Result in Nigeria and Kaduna State Emergency Nutrition Action Plan.