Media Key Partners in Promoting Nutrition in Kaduna

Media Key Partners in Promoting Nutrition in Kaduna

By: Femi Oyelola, Kaduna

The Permanent Secretary of the Kaduna State Ministry of Environment, Linda Yakubu, has opined that the media are key partners in promoting the issue of nutrition in the state.

She asserted this at a media roundtable organized by Alive & Thrive (A&T), held in Kaduna on Friday, September 22.

Linda Yakubu thanked the media practitioners for their support in fighting malnutrition in the state and promoting Maternal, Infant, and Young Child Nutrition (MIYCN) in the state.

Similarly, the A&T Zonal Coordinator, Sarah Didi Kwasu, emphasized the benefits of exclusive breastfeeding, which she said has the potential to save more children’s lives than any other preventive intervention.

According to her, breastfed children have at least 6 times a greater chance of survival in the early months than non-breastfed children, while an exclusively breastfed child is 14 times less likely to die in the first six months than a non-breastfed child.

“An estimated 13 percent of child deaths could be averted if 90 percent of mothers exclusively breastfed their infants for the first six months of life.”

In her presentation, The Breast Milk Substitute (BMS) Desk Officer, National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) Kaduna, Rahila Maishanu, said one of the factors attributed to the failure of exclusive breastfeeding in Nigeria is the influence of aggressive marketing by breast milk substitute companies, adding that Kaduna, however, has a 41 percent rate of exclusive breastfeeding.

She said one major reason for implementing the BMS code in the country is to promote optimal infant and young child feeding for child survival, growth, and development.

Maishanu added that the media is, therefore, key in the promotion and protection of breastfeeding because the issue of nutrition starts and ends with information and education, which the media is believed to be the best medium.

In his remarks, the Assistant State Nutrition Officer, State Primary Healthcare Board (SPHCB), Mr. George Adams, disclosed that Kaduna state has several children on admission for malnutrition cases.

Adams quickly added that the increase in admissions in malnutrition cases in the state could be attributed to the increased number of Community Management of Acute Malnutrition (CMAM) sites, which means more people now access these facilities.

He gave the state profile as follows:
– Number of PHCs/HCs: 1,129
– Facilities providing CMAM: 117
– 17 Secondary health facilities at the stabilization center for the management of complications as a result of Severe Acute Malnutrition.

“The State declared a state of emergency on malnutrition in 2017. Between 2013 (NDHS) and 2018 (NDHS) among children less than five years, the prevalence of -: Stunting has dropped from 41.7% to 22.1%, Underweight: from 36.9% to 7.5%, Wasting: from 27.6% to 1.1%, Low birth weight from 31.6% to 17.2%.”

Other reasons attributed to the increase are a result of the scale-up of CMAM sites that cover the whole state, although more CMAM sites are needed. “Insecurity has increased food security in communities, which has thrown more children into malnutrition in most homes. People in these communities can’t cultivate their farmlands;

“Displacement of people from their ancestral homes from sacked communities by invading marauders. There is another issue of myths and misconception surrounding malnutrition, but with the community, Infant and Young Child Feeding (IYCF) program and other nutrition enlightenment programs, among others contributed to the high increase,” he added.

The state Communication Nutrition Officer, Accelerating Nutrition Results in Nigeria (ANRiN) project, Mairo Tahir, opined that malnutrition is more of an issue of ignorance and not poverty as it were because communities most affected by malnutrition are farming communities. It is believed to be an issue of ignorance and maybe food management.

According to her, ANRiN has embarked on social and behavioral communication through jungles and sent out different kinds of messages on MIYCN, anchored on five key areas: advocacy on early initiation, exclusive breastfeeding for six months, appropriate complementary feeding, handwashing component, infant and folic acid for pregnant mothers.

She said these five key messages are all running on four stations in the state and solicited the media’s support to eradicate malnutrition in Kaduna state.

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