Stakeholders Seek Integration of Quality Nutrition in COVID-19 Interventions

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Stakeholders on Nutrition in Kaduna State, have reiterated the need for families to have access to quality nutrition.

They called for the integration of quality nutrition in all COVID-19 interventions in the state.

The partner stakeholders who met via Microsoft Teams in Kaduna on Thursday noted that the pandemic had disrupted health and nutrition services, as well as access to food and supply chain.

They included Save the Children International (SCI), UNICEF, Alive and Thrive (FHI 360), and Kaduna State Emergency Nutrition Action Plan (KADENAP).

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Others were Accelerating Nutrition Result in Nigeria (ANRiN), Civil Society-Scaling up Nutrition in Nigeria (CS-SUNN), Planning and Budget Commission, Kaduna State Primary Health Care Development Agency and the media.

The partners, among other things, agreed to adopt the Nigeria Food and Nutrition Response Plan for COVID-19, that sought to integrate nutrition services in all COVID-19 interventions.

The ANRiN Programme Manager in the state, Dr Zainab Muhammad-Idris, explained that the plan stressed the need for a multi-sectoral approach to nutrition and strengthening the capacity of the health system.

Muhammad-Idris equally said that the plan also provided for the protection of food and nutrition security and local food system, and to ensure access to safe nutritious food required by the family.

“Some of the key actions needed to be taken is to procure and supply commodities like micro-nutrients, Vitamin A, zinc, MUAC tape and Ready to Use Therapeutic Food (RUTF), among others.

“Integration of Key nutritions messages with COVID-19 messages; map and classified vulnerable children and link them up with palliative providers, and media campaign on a healthy diet using available food items.

“Others are the adoption of minimum food groups that ensure minimum nutrients, minerals and vitamins requirements, and promote quality food hygiene across the supply chain,” she said.

The State Nutrition Officer, Mrs Ramatu Musa, noted that although nutrition services were ongoing in health facilities, there were still challenges affecting service delivery.

Musa listed some of them to include an attitude of health workers and an insufficient number of trained nutritionists.

“There is also the problem of transportation by mothers and caregivers to health facilities due to the lockdown, particularly for caregivers that do not have private means of transportation,” she said.

Mrs Chinwe Ezeife, the Nutrition Specialist, UNICEF Kaduna, said the ongoing training of health workers, nutrition focal persons and other programme managers would be intensified to bridge the capacity gap.

Ezeife stressed the need to address the procurement of commodities, particularly RUTF for the treatment of malnourished children, adding that UNICEF will support the state with Vitamin A.

Malam Isah Ibrahim, the Nutrition Advocacy Advisor, SCI, urged KADENAP to adopt the 2020 implementation plan of the state’s Multisectoral Strategic Plan of Action for Nutritions 2020 to 2024.

Ibrahim said the move became necessary, following the transfer of allocated funds in the 2020 Budget for nutritions activities from the Planning and Budget Commission to the Ministry of Health.

“This will enable nutritions line ministries, department and agencies, like education, agriculture and other agencies to access the funds through KADENAP and implement the 2020 planned activities,” he said.

The wife of Gov. Nasir El-Rufa’i of Kaduna State, Hajiya Aisha El-Rufa’i, agreed to adopt the plan, adding that alternative arrangement will be made to ease the transportation of mothers and caregivers to health facilities.

El-Rufa’i, the Chairperson, KADENAP, who thanked partners for the support, added that arrangement would be made soon for the procurement of RUTF and other nutritions commodities needed in health facilities.

Other issues concluded at the meeting were the low-key celebration of 2020 World Breastfeeding Week, legal backing of maternity and paternity leave for workers in public and private sectors.

Another issue was advocacy to include mothers and caregivers of malnourished children among beneficiaries of the second batch of the state government’s distribution of food items to vulnerable households.

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