The Kaduna State Government said on Thursday that it would strengthen the delivery of quality nutrition services at local government level to address the scourge of malnutrition.
The Permanent Secretary, Planning and Budget Commission (PBC), Mr Mahmoud Yamusa said this in Zaria, at the opening of a Quarterly Review Meeting on Food and Nutrition.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the meeting was held with nutrition officers from the 23 Local Government Areas (LGAs) of the state.
Yamusa, represented by Malam Salisu Lawal, the Director, Development Aid Coordination, PBC, said that services would be improved with support from development partners and civil society organisations.
He identified the partners as UNICEF, Save the Children International (SCI), Alive and Thrive (Fhi 360), UNFPA, and Civil Society Scaling Up Nutrition in Nigeria (CS-SUNN) among others.
Yamusa pointed out that the government had recorded some milestones in the nutrition sector, noting that much was needed to be done to reverse the disturbing indices of malnutrition among women and children.
He explained that the government had approved the State Policy on Food and Nutrition as well as developed the state Multi-sectoral Strategic Plan of Action for Nutrition 2020 to 2024.
He added that some nutrition budget lines had also been created in some line Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) and LGAs.
“The government had also extended maternity leave from three to six months for working class mothers and expanded coverage of Infant and Young Child Feeding and Community Management of Acute Malnutrition.
“However, the nutrition indices in the state are still below acceptable levels. This is very disturbing, considering that nutrition-related factors contribute to 50 per cent deaths among children under five years.
“There is, therefore, the need for the Ministry of Local Government Affairs to increase budget allocation for nutrition interventions in LGAs with higher burden of malnutrition.
“This will enable us to tackle the scourge of malnutrition at the grassroot level,” Yamusa said.
He explained that the meeting was organised with support from UNICEF to review nutrition performance at LGAs from January to date to see what had been achieved and lessons learnt.
He added that the meeting was to also mainstream COVID-19 in the implementation of nutrition programmes, as well as document barriers and challenges in the implementation of activities.
“It is also organised to improve the capacity of members on how to carry out their tasks in line with COVID-19 protocols and facilitate the coordination of nutrition activities for improved performance,” he said.
The permanent secretary commended development partners for the overwhelming support to improve the nutrition situation in the state.
Also speaking, Nutrition Specialist, UNICEF Kaduna Field Office, Mrs Chinwe Ezeife, reiterated UNICEF’s commitment for continued technical and funding support in line with its mandate.
She commended the state for sustaining nutrition services at facilities throughout the lockdown of the state due to the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic.
Mr Isah Ibrahim, Nutrition Advocacy Advisor, SCI, urged the nutrition officers to continue engaging mothers, caregivers, and community members, otherwise the nutrition indices in the state would degenerate instead of improving.
Similarly, Mrs Sarah Kwasu, State Team Lead, Alive and Thrive, urged the nutrition officers to improve the quality of services to improve the nutritional status of women and children.
“Alive and thrive will continue to support the state to ensure improved uptake of nutrition services to ensure that children have a good start in life and grow strong and healthy. (NAN)