By Ibrahim HassanWuyo
The COVID-19 pandemic has a deepened poverty situation, and by implication worsening the malnutrition situation in Kaduna State.
The state government should, therefore, increase investment in nutrition and facilitate timely releases, cash backing, and utilization of allocated nutrition funds for outlined activities at the state and local levels.
This was contained in a communique issued at the end of a one-day media engagement on Maternal, Infant and Young Child Feeding organized by the Civil Society-Scaling Up Nutrition in Nigeria (CS-SUNN) under the SUN Movement Pooled Fund Window II, in Kaduna
The communique signed by Mr. Silas Ideva, Coordinator, CS-SUNN, Kaduna State, observed that malnutrition has remained a problem of public health concern across Nigeria, thus posing challenges to the development of children and the economic potential of Nigeria and Kaduna State in particular.
“Despite significant improvement recorded in the state nutrition programmes in the last five years, the state remained among the list of 10 states with disturbing nutrition indices (Stunting rate 48.1%, 2018 NDHS).”
“The recent Pandemic on COVID 19 has further compounded this situation by deepening the morbidity of malnutrition in Kaduna State.SUN Movement Pooled Fund is a source of resources for funding innovative projects to support multi-sectoral stakeholder platforms in SUN Countries.”
” The goal is to increase the effectiveness and impact of national efforts to end malnutrition in all its forms. It hopes to improve the delivery of multi-sectoral nutrition activities that impact nutrition outcomes for nutritionally vulnerable groups including women, girls, and adolescents, as well as communities at the local level,” they said.
The media engagement was, therefore, organized by Civil Society Scaling Up Nutrition in Nigeria (CS-SUNN) to enlist the support of media in promoting good nutrition practice and policy implementation with a focus on Maternal, Infant and Young Child Feeding (MIYCF) in Kaduna State.
After an intensive discussion and review of the malnutrition situation and ongoing intervention in Kaduna State, participants appreciated the goodwill, commitment of government and partners in Kaduna State, towards stemming the tide of malnutrition in the state which includes among other services:
“High impact and Low-cost intervention on Maternal, Infant and Young Child Feeding (IYCF) interventions have been established in Kaduna State; IYCF is being implemented in 12 LGAs out of 23 LGAs of the state.
While Community Management of Acute Malnutrition (CMAM) intervention is ongoing in 15 LGAs, with 77 out-patient therapeutic program (OTP) sites covering 77 wards in the fifteen LGAs. The Kaduna Emergency Nutrition Action Plan (KADENAP) has also scaled up 20 more sites in four local government areas of Kagarko, Kudan, Jemma’a, and Ikara LGAs of the state.”
“Integrated service delivery at some PHCs and Secondary facilities for women and children (immunization, ANC, and Nutrition) are still being offered with the modified client- flow arrangements in the context of COVID-19.”
“Established Community structures like the State Committee and the Local Government Committee on Food and Nutrition and partnership with CSOs which has strengthened monitoring of Nutrition Service delivery.”
There is a Kaduna State Strategy for Maternal, Infant, and Young Child Nutrition (2019-2-23) in place which encourages early initiation and breastfeeding from birth to six months of age, complementary feeding from six months of age, and breastfeeding in the context of HIV.
The strategic goal is to ensure optimal nutrition of adolescent girls, pregnant and lactating women and children aged zero to five years of age, and prevent malnutrition among vulnerable groups (by 2021, 70% of adolescent girls, pregnant and lactating women have to access to nutrition intervention in the state). However, the engagement further observed that in the light of the unrelenting commitment of the state in containing the menace of malnutrition, several factors are contributing to the disturbing indices of malnutrition confronting the state.
“The 2018 National Demographic and Health Survey, shows a rate of 48.1%, 4.8%, and 22.1% for Stunting, Wasting and underweight respectively, while 2018 NNHS, is at 27.1%, 5.4%, 22.2% for Stunting, Wasting and Underweight respectively in Kaduna state. Such factors contributing to the negative indices include;
“Inadequate budgetary allocation for sensitive and specific nutrition intervention with Low utilization of available budget lines (slow releases and cash backing of allocates funds);
“Weak implementation of relevant nutrition policy document e.g through the State Nutrition Policy has been signed, it is yet to be printed and duly disseminated; the Kaduna State Multi sectorial Strategic Plan of Action on Food and Nutrition (KDMSPAN), is yet to be signed as at the time of this engagement;
They observed that COVID-19 Lockdown impacted on undernutrition; underlying factors such as poor maternal nutrition, poor infant and young child feeding practices, inadequate health services, and limited access to nutritious foods contributed to a moderate stunting rate of 48.1% (NDHS 2018);
“While the World Health Organization recommends that infants should not be given any form of complementary food until 6months of ages, only 27.2% (MICS 2018) of infants are exclusively breastfed in Kaduna state;”
“Adequate food intake and healthy nutritional practices are the “foundation blocks” for the healthy and productive nation.”
They said the scourge of malnutrition, manifesting as under-nutrition, over-nutrition, and micronutrient deficiencies are severe among infants, children, adolescents, pregnant and lactating women as seen in the indices indicated above.
They observed that there is limited coverage of most nutrition actions for key target groups with a number of high-impact nutrition actions not implemented in some LGAs within Kaduna State; and low media engagement and reportage based on investigative journalism on issues around malnutrition in the state.
At the end of the media engagement, it was resolved that COVID-19 has a deepened poverty situation, and by implication worsening the malnutrition situation in Kaduna State. The state government should increase investment in nutrition and facilitate timely releases, cash backing, and utilization of allocated nutrition funds for outlined activities at the state and local levels.
“The need for signing and implementation of the State Multisectoral Strategic Plan of Action for Nutrition (KDMSPAN) and other nutrition policy documents is fundamental in overcoming malnutrition as well as poverty.”
That poor nutrition impedes cognitive and physical development, with an underlying impact on the economic potentiality of the state. Data from World bank reveals that undernutrition can decreases GDP by 3-7% (up to 11%) – [World Bank 2005]. Hence a multisectoral approach is required in addressing it.
“Continuous evidence-based advocacy for increased investment by domestic resources for Nutrition intervention should be actively embarked upon by the CSOs and the media.”
“Establishment and functionality of Local Government Areas Committee on Food and Nutrition should be enhanced in line with the State policy on food and nutrition.”
“Scale-up of high impact Nutrition specific and Nutrition sensitive interventions especially in high burdened and Hard to Reach LGAs and communities should be appropriately targeted and delivered.”
“The media is one of the strategic partners for increasing nutrition salience and creating awareness in the state and at the community level.”
They also resolved that capacity building activities and training should be facilitated for media practitioners to enhance their skills in investigative journalism that increases nutrition reportage.