THE United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), World Health Organisation and other development partners on Wednesday pledged continued support to Kaduna state Government to improve maternal and child health as well as nutrition status in the state.
The other partners included the Society for Family Health (SFH) and Civil Society-Scaling Up Nutrition in Nigeria (CS-SUNN).
The development partners made the pledge 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).
Mr Donald Burgess, Chief of Field Office, UNICEF Kaduna, 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.
Dr Umeh Gregory, Assistant Public Health Officer, WHO Kaduna, 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, Mr Muhammad Ibrahim, Project Director, SFH/Accelerating Nutrition Results in Nigeria (ANRiN), 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, 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.
Mrs Chinwe Ezeife, Nutrition Specialist, UNICEF Kaduna, 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, adding that it would strengthen collaboration and partnership for better results in the next round of events scheduled for May 2023.
Dr Hamza Abubakar, Executive Secretary, SPHCB, 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.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that 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.
Presenting the November 2022 MNCH Week Report, Mr Usman Garba, acting Deputy Director, Monitoring and Evaluation, SPHCB, said that the event recorded impressive performance in Vitamin A supplementation to children six to 59 months.
Garba added that deworming and iron folate 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. (NAN)