Governor Nasir El-Rufa’i of Kaduna State on Tuesday described the increasing population of malnourished persons in the state as frightening.
El-Rufa’I stated this in Kaduna at the opening of a Two-day Orientation Workshop on “Effective Coordination of nutrition programme’’ organised for members of Kaduna State Committee on Food and Nutrition.
El-Rufa’I who was represented by the state Commissioner for Women Affairs and Social Development, Hajiya Hafsat Baba, said that the number of malnourished children remained very high in spite of ongoing efforts to address it.
He said despite the huge interventions, 11.7 per cent of children under- five years in the state were still suffering from acute malnutrition and 47 per cent suffering from stunted growth.
According to him, huge resources are being sunk by the state and development partners without much impact, largely because of uncoordinated intervention.
He explained that duplication of intervention has negative effect on results, but that “co-ordinated intervention would lead to direct impact and create the desired result.”
He added: “I strongly believe that with the adherence to coordinated interventions will have a high chance of addressing the scourge.”
Also speaking, Hajiya Aisha Mohammed of “Save the Children’’, Kaduna State Office, said that coordination among development partners was necessary to avoid duplication of efforts.
Mohammed said: “Without coordination, we will be doing the same thing in same communities which would amount to wastage of resources.”
She said that the objective of the workshop was to strengthen the capacity of the committee in coordinating nutrition intervention in the state.
She said: “We will equally highlight the role of the committee in implementing the state nutrition policy and develop action plan.”
The State Nutrition Officer, Hajiya Hauwa Usman, said that the Kaduna State Policy on Food and Nutrition was designed to reduce malnutrition through coordinated interventions.
Usman said that the policy hope to among other things, reduce the number of under-five stunting by 50 per cent, duplication by 10 per cent, and reduce low birth weight by 30 per cent by 2025.
She said: “It also hoped to reduce hunger and malnutrition by 50 per cent, increase exclusive breastfeeding rates in the first six months by 50 per cent, and increase uptake of appropriate complementary feeding by 40 per cent by 2025.”
Rahila Maishanu, the Desk Office of Breast Milk Substitute at the National Food and Drug Administration and Control, expressed concern over the increasing rate of marketing of the substances in the state health centres.
Maishanu said that while the state and its development partners are working to arrest malnutrition through encouragement of exclusive breastfeeding, manufacturers of BMS are sabotaging the efforts.
She said that the substance made from animal milk, are of low nutritional value compared with breast milk marketed at various health centres in the state.
According to her, the development is encouraging mothers to feed their children with the junk, rather than breast milk which contained the entire nutrient needed by a child.
Describing the situation as “nutrition terrorism”, the NAFDAC official urged the state government to set up a taskforce to curb the trend.
The Team Leader of Alive and Thrive, an NGO, Christopher Musa, said that a lot of health officers are not aware of the code that prevents them from supporting the advertisement of the products.
He said that a sensitisation programme for health officers by the NGO in 2017 revealed that only three out of the 35 participants were aware of the code.
Responding, Hajiya Aisha El-Rufa’I, the wife of the state governor and the Chairperson, Kaduna State Emergency Nutrition Action Plan, promised to advocate for the setting up of a taskforce.
She also urged the state Primary Health Care Development Agency to take appropriate action.