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Kaduna, stakeholders develop plans to address malnutrition scourge

by Achadu Gabriel, Kaduna

Kaduna State Government, with support from partners and relevant stakeholders, has developed a Multi-Sectoral Strategic Plan of Action for Nutrition, KD-MSPAN 2020-2024, as part of strategy to address the scourge of malnutrition in the state. 

The strategic plan is to serve as a tool to implement nutrition activities by line Ministries, Department and Agencies, MDAs, with effect from the 2020 approved budget with a resolve to achieve the 2020 fiscal year targets. 

This was contained in a communiqué issued at the end of 2-day review and pre-budget meeting on allocation, release and utilization of nitration budget with key stakeholders from the legislature and Nutrition line ministries in Kaduna State, in August, 2020.

The communiqué, signed by Director, Development Aid Coordination Kaduna State Planning and Budget Commission, Malam Salisu Baba Lawal, and three other stakeholders, noted that holding regular meetings were, therefore, crucial in line with good practices to plan and measure the performance of the MDAs. 

Similarly, to ensure adequate funding, timely releases and cash backing of nutrition funding, the Kaduna State Planning and Budget Commission with the support of Civil Society-Scaling Up Nutrition in Nigeria, CS-SUNN, Save the Children International and other nutrition partners held a two-day review meeting on allocation, releases and utilization of nutrition budget. 

The participants of the meeting were drawn from nutrition line ministries, legislature, members of the state’s food and nutrition committee, UNICEF, Alive and Thrive, Save the Children International, CS-SUNN, Nutrition Society of Nigeria, NSN, and the Media.

The meeting was organized for stakeholders to ascertain the level of nutrition investment and budget performance in Kaduna state, to understand the current malnutrition situation, and for stakeholders to secure state commitments on increased domestic investment in high-impact, low-cost interventions as captured in the state specific plans of actions in the 2020 annual budget, and develop key advocacy tasks for 2021. 

Participants observed that, there is strong political will to improve the nutrition situation in the state as demonstrated by the development of the State Policy on Food and Nutrition, KD-MSPAN, creation of nutrition budget lines in LGAs, extension of maternity leave from 3 to 6 months, increased Infant and Young Child Feeding, IYCF, and Community Management of Acute Malnutrition, CMAM, coverage.

“CMAM is being implemented in 15 LGAs with 77 health facilities in the state, while C-IYCF is being implemented in 12 LGAs.

“No fewer than 15,842 malnourished children were admitted in various CMAM sites, from January to June, of which 11,328 have been cured, while 94 children died. Kaduna State had recorded an impressive budget performance in the health sector in 2019, with 96% budget performance compared to the 30 % recorded in 2018. Partners’ supports have played major roles in supporting the state to improve the nutrition situation,” it stated. 

The participants, however, observed that the NDHS 2018 placed Kaduna State in the 9th position among states with high burden of stunted children at 48.1%, higher than the national rate of 37%.

“There is the problem of cultural and religious misconceptions around early initiation of breastfeeding, exclusive breastfeeding, and minimum dietary diversification.

“Low level of key nutrition indices with only 35.9% practice early initiation of breastfeeding within one hour of birth, exclusive breastfeeding 19.7% (MICS 2017), and minimum dietary diversification 28% (NNHS 2018).

“Low cash backing of allocated nutrition funds at the State and LGAs, coupled with the absence of nutrition budget lines in relevant MDAs.

“There is also the problem of inadequate Nutritionists at the PHC and LGA levels with only 3 currently working: one each in Igabi, Kagarko and Zaria LGAs.

“Low capacity of nutrition focal persons in many MDAs and LGAs to plan, implement, and document successes, case studies and lessons learnt. Weak monitoring and supervision of nutrition programmes at all levels in the state. 

“Currently, Nutrition budget line in the 2020 budget is domiciled at Ministry of Health for relevant MDAs to access through KADENAP. This creates multiple processes that could slow down timely access to allocated funds.

“Good practice requires that budget provisions be made in every line MDAs implementing nutrition programmes in the state for maximum result. MDAs not writing memo to access allocated funds to implement nutrition programmes. Disruption of nutrition and related programme implementation due to lock down of the state as a result of COVID-19 pandemic.”

The meeting resolved that the State and Local Government Areas should increase investment in nutrition by increasing budgetary allocation and ensure timely release and cash backing of allocated funds to promote uninterrupted growth, development, and survival of women and children.

“IYCF and CMAM intervention should be scaled-up in all LGAs as preventive measures on ending malnutrition. Civil Society Organisations to strengthen advocacy for the release and cash backing of nutrition activities on quarterly basis.

“Government should expedite action on recruitment and deployment of trained nutritionist to PHCs in 255 wards, in line with Nutrition Minimum Service package, and PHCUOR requirement for manpower.

“SCFN should advocate for improved data collection, collation, and documentation to strengthen the Nutrition Management Information System, for informed management decision at the State Executive Council meeting.

“State Committee on Food and Nutrition and relevant stakeholders to advocate for prompt releases and cash backing of nutrition budget allocation.

“Kaduna House of Assembly to ensure adequate budgetary allocation for nutrition intervention and facilitate timely release and cash backing of allocated funds through oversight.

“State Primary Healthcare Development Agency to give data of LGAs with high prevalence of malnutrition to Ministry of Local Government Affairs, to prioritize budget allocation, releases, and cash backing,” it stated.

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