BY ABDULLAHI YAKUBU, Kano
The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), yesterday, commended the Kaduna State government for improving indices of malnutrition among children under five years in the state.
Dr Zakari Adam, chief field officer, UNICEF, Kaduna, made the commendation at a one-day Policy Dialogue on State Nutrition Policy, organised by the Planning and Budget Commission (PBC).
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the policy dialogue had the theme, “Emerging Opportunities and Innovative Financing Options for Nutrition Interventions.”
Adam, who was represented by the Nutrition Specialist, Mrs Chinwe Ezeife, pointed out that the government had been working hard to improve nutrition indices among children in the state.
“For instance, stunting, has slightly dropped from 56.6 per cent to 48.1 per cent between 2013 and 2018, according to the National Demographic and Health Survey.
“Low birth weight also dropped from 36.1 per cent to 17.2 per cent; wasting from 41.7 per cent to 4.8 per cent and underweight from 57.6 per cent to 22.1 per cent.
“However, this still means that four out of every 10 children from zero to 69 months in the state are stunted.
“The policy dialogue will, therefore, provide avenues for stakeholders to put heads together and come up with initiatives to reduce and improve all indices of malnutrition in the state,” he said.
The officer said that the progress, if maintained and improved upon, would significantly improve the nutrition and wellbeing of children and women of childbearing age, including pregnant women in the state.
He said that UNICEF would continue to support the government to deliver cost effective interventions that would ensure maximum result on investment.
Providing an overview of the State Nutrition Policy, Dr Zainab Muhammad-Idris, the project coordinator, Accelerating Nutrition Result in Nigeria, said that much still needs to be done in spite of the progress being recorded.
Muhammad-Idris said that the nutrition policy is targeted to reduce stunting rate by 20 per cent, law birth weight by 15 per cent, and wasting by 10 per cent.
She added that the policy also planned to reduce anaemia in women of reproductive age by 50 per cent and increase exclusive breastfeeding rates in the first six months of life to at least 50 per cent.
“It also hoped to address comprehensive legislation for marketing Breast Milk Substitute, legislate on maternity leave and food fortification, among other issues.
“Beside the nutrition policy, there is also the Kaduna State Maternal Infant and Young Child Nutrition Strategy and Kaduna Multi-sectoral Strategic Plan of Action on Nutrition, 2020 to 2024, and other related policies across the state,” she said. (NAN)