by Achadu Gabriel, Kaduna
The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), World Health Organisation and other development partners have pledged continued support to Kaduna State Government to improve maternal and child health as well as nutrition status in the state.
The other partners include the Society for Family Health (SFH) and Civil Society-Scaling Up Nutrition in Nigeria (CS-SUNN).
The development partners made the pledge yesterday in Kaduna during the dissemination of November 2022 Maternal Newborn and Child Health (MNCH) Week Report, organised by the State Primary Health Care Board (SPHCB).
Chief of Field Officer of UNICEF Kaduna, Mr Donald Burgess, commended the Kaduna State Government for taking ownership of the MNCH Week.
Burgess added that the state was doing very well in implementing the bi-annual programme, considering the huge number of pregnant mothers and children reached with different critical services during the week.
“The good thing is that the state is reviewing its performance to determine the challenges, lessons learned and how they can improvise. This is very helpful, and it shows that the state is proactive.
“UNICEF is one of the key partners supporting the effort and will continue to provide Vitamin A supplement and deworming tablets to improve nutrition indices among women and children in the state.
“This is one of the core areas where UNICEF is working in collaboration with the state government, and I think the collaboration is good and we will continue to provide the needed support,” he said.
Assistant Public Health Officer for WHO Kaduna, Dr Umeh Gregory, who also pledged the organisation’s continued support, said the bi-annual event was increasing the uptake of health and nutrition services.
Gregory commended the SPHCB for disseminating the report to relevant agencies and partners and urged the government to make the event regular to share opportunities, knowledge, and best practices.
“We are on ground to support the MNCH Week activities, particularly at local government level. If there are gaps, let us know so that we can fill such gaps,” he said.
Similarly, Project Director, SFH/Accelerating Nutrition Results in Nigeria (ANRiN), Mr Muhammad Ibrahim, said that SFH was providing integrated basic nutrition and adolescent health services at community level under the ANRiN project.
Ibrahim pledged continued partnership with the State Government for the success of the MNCH Week and support at community level to ensure that the target populations were reached with the needed services.
On her part, Hajiya Fatima Mohammed, who is Adolescents, Sexual and Reproductive Health Specialist, SFH/Lafiya programme, stressed the need to strengthen health promotion and community mobilisation for improved coverage during the MNCH Week.
A Nutrition Specialist, in UNICEF Kaduna, Mrs Chinwe Ezeife, also noted the need for active participation of Local Government Chairmen in the provision of commodities, logistics and community mobilisation.
Ezeife commended the consistency in organising the event, adding however, that much was need to be done in the screening of children for malnutrition and community mobilisation to achieve better results.
The Coordinator of CS-SUNN in the state, Ms Jessica Bartholomew, said that the MNCH Week was very important to addressing the problem of malnutrition in communities.
Bartholomew pointed out that the dissemination of the MNCH report was vital, as it would strengthen collaboration and partnership for better results in the next round of events scheduled for May, 2023.
Executive Secretary of SPHCB, Dr Hamza Abubakar, in contribution said that planning for the next round of MNCH Week, coming up in May, should begin immediately at the Zonal level.
Abubakar, who was represented by Malam Hamza Ikara, Director, Diseases Prevention and Control in the Board, called for proactive steps to addressing the high number of malnourished children identified during the week.
Presenting the November 2022 MNCH Week Report, SPHCB’s Acting Deputy Director, Monitoring and Evaluation, Mr Usman Garba, said that the event recorded impressive performance in Vitamin A supplementation to children of 6 to 59 months.
Garba added that, deworming and iron foliate recorded 43 and 41 per cent performances, respectively; health promotion activities recorded 32 per cent, while birth registration recorded only two per cent.
He added that screening for malnutrition also showed a disturbing number of children less than five years found with severe acute malnutrition.
The MNCH Week is a week-long event organised by the SPHCB, in collaboration with other government agencies and development partners. The event is designed to deliver an integrated package of highly cost-effective and curative services and interventions to strengthen the routine services being provided at Primary Health Care centres.