AISHA UMMI GARBA EL-RUFA’I

The Kaduna State Government with support from Alive and Thrive on Friday launched a multi-media campaign to improve Infant and Young Child Feeding (IYCF) practices in the state.

Launching the campaign in Kaduna, Hajiya Aisha El-Rufai, wife of the state governor, said that the campaign was designed to create attitudinal and behavioural change among parents and care givers on IYCF practices.

Mrs El-Rufai explained that the campaign tagged “Start Strong’’ is designed to give a child a chance for a better future and quality life.

She said that poor knowledge about early initiation of breastfeeding, exclusive breastfeeding and appropriate complementary feeding has remained a major challenge in the fight against malnutrition in the state.

According to her, the multi-media campaign is designed to create the needed knowledge on IYCF to increase demand for nutrition services as well as good IYCF practices among parents and caregivers.

She said that KADENAP had trained journalists in the state on issues around nutrition and malnutrition and the situation in the state, according to the News Agency of Nigeria, NAN.

She assured that several of such training would be organised particularly on IYCF messages to properly equip the media with the needed information for the campaign.

“The state government is committing resources and putting sustainable measures through KADENAP in addressing the scourge of malnutrition in the state,” she said.

Mr Christopher Musa, State Team Leader, Alive and Thrive, said that without the mass media, the fight against malnutrition we cannot succeed.

“That is why we are mobilising the media to take IYCF messages to all the nook and crannies of the state.

“The idea is to create the needed awareness on best feeding practices that ensures healthy growth and development of the child,” Musa said.

The state Commissioner for Health and Human Services, Dr Paul Dogo, described IYCF as a crucial step towards ensuring uninterrupted healthy growth and development of a child.

According to him, appropriate IYCF practices is key in laying the required foundation for a healthy generation that will take the state to greater heights.

“If we can get mothers to practise early initiation of breastfeeding, exclusive breastfeeding for six months and adequate complementary feeding after the first six month, it will go a long way in preventing malnutrition.

“This is a collective responsibility by all relevant stakeholders; we must ensure that parents and care givers are enlightened and educated on how to properly feed a child for healthy development.”

Dogo commended development partners for supporting the state to meet the health and nutritious needs of the people of the state.

Dr Zainab Idris, the Programme Manager, Kaduna State Emergency Nutrition Action Plan (KADENAP), said that the multi-media campaign would help in mainstreaming IYCF practices in communities across the state.

“We are not here only to too look at the issues but how to carry the campaign to grassroots for mothers and caregivers to embrace good IYCF practices as part of measures of preventing malnutrition,” Idris said.

Malam Isa Ibrahim, the Nutrition Advocacy Adviser, Save the Children International, thanked the state government for the commitment toward improving the nutrition status of children in the state.

Ibrahim noted that the state was among the most vulnerable states in terms of malnutrition crises in the North West region.

However, he noted that though the state has recorded some level of improvement in the nutrition indices on children, much needs to be done in bridging the gap between knowledge and practice on IYCF.

He commended the state government for allocating about N610 million for nutrition intervention in 2018, but regretted that the release was so far below 20 per cent.

According to Ibrahim, not much will be achieved if allocated funds are not released on time.

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