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Kaduna Govt lauds NGO for mobilising men to support infant feeding



The Kaduna State Government has lauded Alive and Thrive (FHI360), an NGO, for mobilising men to provide adequate nutritious food for feeding of infants and children in the state.

The state Nutrition Officer, Hajiya Hauwa Usman, made the commendation on Wednesday at a one-day feedback meeting on `Alive and Thrive Implementation Research’ to engage men in the feeding of children.

Usman recalled that the NGO had in February, engaged `I Care Women and Youth Initiative to mobilise at least 6,000 fathers to promote appropriate infant and young child feeding.

She noted that several interventions and mobilisation to address malnutrition in the state focused on the women, leaving the men on the sideline as onlookers, despite their status as head of the family.

She said that the research, being conducted in Igabi Local Government Area of the state, was designed to specifically engage fathers to provide minimum dietary diversity for children six to 23 months.

According to her, the step has provided the needed boost in the fight against malnutrition in the state, adding that the war shall be won if men are convinced to join the fight and do so accordingly.

“The state government have carried out several interventions and expended huge resources with support from development partners to fight malnutrition, but with minimal success because the fathers were excluded.

“I am confident that we will record significant progress in no distant time now that the men are being mobilise to support their wives in providing the needed foods for their infants and young children,” she said.

The Project Manager, I Care, Mr Abdulrahaman Mikail, said the research was tagged “Engaging fathers of children aged six to 23 months, through a package of Community-Based Interventions to Improve Complementary Feeding Practices”.

Mikail explained that the goal was to motivate fathers to procure diverse foods to support appropriate complementary feeding that would provide children six to 23 months with the needed nutrients and vitamins.

“Findings show that fathers provide the financial resources for mothers to purchase the needed variety of food groups for the family while grandmothers teach the mothers how to cook.

“We want fathers to support mothers to exclusively breastfeed their child, but after six months of exclusive breastfeeding, the family is expected to introduce appropriate complementary feeding.

“This is because breast milk will no longer be sufficient to meet all the nutritional requirement of infants, and fathers are also required to play a crucial role at this level,” he said.

He said that I Care has concluded all preparation for the research, mapped out 7,240 fathers and would soon commence the research.

He added that for the success of the research, I Care would train 177 field officers, including Community Health Extension Workers, religious leaders, community volunteers and Community Based Organisations, among others.

Mrs Sarah Kwasu, the state Team Leader, Alive and Thrive, said the research was crucial in determining the key role that fathers could play in improving the nutrition status of children.

“We mostly excluded the fathers, forgetting that they provide the financial resources and decide what the family eats.

“The research will help us to measure changes in fathers support for dietary diversity in rural areas in the state before and after the intervention.

“It will also help to determine the percentage of children six to 23 months that had access to minimum dietary divert within the research area,” Kwasu said.

Some of the religious leaders, community volunteers and community-based associations at the meeting pledged their full support for the success of the project, noting that it is the responsibility of fathers to properly feed their children.


Kwara Agency begins immunisation for children



A 6-day immunisation programme for children from 0 to 59 months has begun in Ilorin, the Kwara capital on Sunday.

A visit to Yusjib Industrial Medicare, along Ajase Ipo Road, Ilorin, one of the accredited centres for the programme by the Nigeria News Agency , revealed that parents came out in their numbers for the exercise.

Commenting on the development, the Chief Medical Director (CMD), of the hospital, Dr Yusuf Abdulraheem, said the programme is organised by the Kwara State Primary Health Care Development Agency.

According to him, children under the age of 0 to 59 months are to be vaccinated for IPV, OPV, PCV, BCG, PENTA, Hep B, Measles and Yellow fever.

He said his hospital was chosen as one of the pilot centres as the health workers are expected to move from streets to streets to get the children immunised.

As at the time of filing this report, no fewer than 60 children have been vaccinated.

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NGO offers healthcare to 300,000 under-5 children in Benue



The Christian Aid Nigeria, an NGO, says it has managed and cared for more than 300,000 cases of childhood illnesses among under-5 children in Benue within three years.

The organisation seeks an end to poverty in Nigeria, works to improve the health of poor and marginalised people via three core strategic programme areas; health; governance and development; and humanitarian work.

The Programme Officer, Mr Olusegun Oladejo, in a statement issued on Sunday said that the children were attended to through its Improved Child Health Project (PICH Project) in the state.

He said that the three years UKAID funded PICH Project, which would wind down on Aug. 21, was carried out in four local government areas of the state – Konshisha, Kwande, Obi and Okpokwu.

Oladejo said that the project implemented by the NGO in partnership with the government of Benue, the Federal Ministry of Health and two local partners; Ohonyettarget Givers and Jireh Doo Foundation.

He explained that the project employed integrated Community Case Management (ICCM) approach, providing free life-saving treatment to under-5 children in hard to reach communities using volunteers known as Community Oriented Resource Persons (CoRPs).

He said that through the project, 997 CoRPs in target communities were trained and equipped with commodities and kits to test, treat and refer children with danger signs to health facilities.

“No fewer than 124 Lower Level Health Facility Workers were also trained to provide supportive supervision and life-saving intervention to the CoRPs.

“According to records, Christian Aid has through this important intervention empowered communities to take ownership of their own health.

“This was done by improving knowledge and health seeking behaviour, giving hope in despair and saving under five children who face imminent death due to barriers of access to and uptake of quality health services.

“The project has succeeded in building community resilience and capacity for disease mitigation and prevention.

“Also through the implementation of PICH Project in Benue, the organisation has demonstrated that poverty and distance to health facilities should not be a death sentence.”

Oladejo added that governance structure was put in place at the community level in order to ensure commodity accountability, support provision of services and undertake self-help initiatives to address barriers to health access.

“Consequently, more than 130 Community Development Committees (CDCs) groups were established or resuscitated and trained to be more effective in advocating to duty bearer to bring a positive change to their community human development indices.

“More than 340 faith and community leaders were empowered to use their platforms and influences to address social and cultural barriers to health services.

“This was done through town hall and religious meetings where basic information for prevention of childhood diseases was shared and caregivers linked to the CoRPs to provide live saving intervention to the children.”

Oladejo added that to ensure quality of service, health workers provided on-site supportive supervision and mentoring to the CoRPs, in addition to the bi-annual visits jointly provided by the federal and state Ministries of Health and Local Government Department of health personnel.

He said that volunteers who gave their time and effort to the project were rewarded as the vision of Christian Aid was to empower individuals by making deep and lasting change in their lives.

He said that Christian Aid also conducted business training and invested in income generation activities of the CoRPs, rather than giving out stipends which was not sustainable.

Oladejo said that the project also worked with the volunteers to rejuvenate or support the establishment of business ventures for the volunteers.

This, according to him, created a multiplier effect by providing stable income generation for volunteers and stimulate economic activities of beneficiaries and local communities.

“The project team had also worked with Benue Government and other stakeholders in the health sector to sustain the gains of the project with a view to maintaining the traction gained by the intervention.

“Every year, hundreds of thousands of children under the age of five years in Nigeria do not live up to their fifth birthday due to preventable childhood illnesses such as malaria, pneumonia, diarrhoea and severe acute malnutrition.

“Most under-five death occurs in remote, hard to reach communities where caregivers are faced with physical, social and financial barriers to access health services, spurring Christian Aid Nigeria to intervene.

“The organisation acted in line with its vision for a just, equitable and peaceful Nigerian society where poverty is eradicated and everyone is empowered to live life in its fullness.”

Oladejo said that the people of the state had at different occasions appreciated Christian Aid Nigeria for providing free life-saving treatment to under-five children in their communities and for addressing their concerns.

He hinted that the ministry of health, local government officials and other stakeholders in the health sector were expected at a ceremony on Wednesday in Benue to end the PICH Project.

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Put your activities on hold, FG orders youth council



The Federal Government has directed the National Youth Council of Nigeria (NYCN) to put its activities on hold until the Federal Executive Council (FEC) is reconstituted.

The Ministry of Youth and Social Development said this in a statement issued in Abuja on Sunday by its Director of Press, Mrs Blessing Lere-Adams.

According to the statement, the order was given by the Permanent Secretary, Mr Olusadeb Adesola, in furtherance of the ministry’s effort to avert breakdown of law and order.

“The ministry has ordered the group to put on hold, all its activities until the Federal Executive Council (FEC) is reconstituted and a substantive minister is posted to the ministry.

“It also urged members of the group to exercise restraint, maintain the status quo and stop parading themselves as leaders of the group,’’ Lere-Adams said.

The ministry, therefore, advised governments at the states and local levels, as well as embassies and consular operating in Nigeria to seek clarification from the ministry before dealing with individuals laying claims to leadership of the youth organisation.

“In furtherance of its mandate to forestall a breakdown of law and order amongst membership of NYCN, members are urged to desist henceforth, from parading themselves as president of the council.

“NYCN members should note that the earlier directive of the ministry on the maintenance of status quo ante on all activities of youth council remains extant till the reconstitution of the FEC.

“We, therefore, seize this opportunity to advise consular and embassies in Nigeria, states and local governments and other stakeholders to seek clarification from the ministry before granting recognition to individuals or groups claiming to be leaders of the group,’’ Lere-Adams said.

The Nigeria News Agency recalls that the NYCN Board of Trustees had disbanded the group in May, due to crises arising from parallel congresses that produced two factional executives.

An elective congress was held in Gombe State in July, 2018, where Comrade Shagari emerged president with his executive members.

A factional congress held in Port Harcourt shortly after the Gombe congress, also produced Sukubo Seriagbe Sukubo as president with his own executive members.

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Corp member spends N.22m on renovation of clinic in Bida



A Batch C 2018 National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) member, Dr Iyetunji Niyi-Isaiah, has renovated Efulu-Basal Primary Health Care Centre in Bida, Niger, with N220,000

Niyi-Isaiah, who is deployed to the Federal Medical Centre, Bida, for his primary assignment, disclosed this during the inauguration of the facility on Sunday.

He said the renovation was part of his community development project for Bida community which also included medical consumables and infrastructure for clinic.

He said that N220,000 was spent on the renovation of Efulu-Basal Primary Health Care facility in Bida, Niger.

“The idea was borne out of the passion I have toward revitalisation of primary health care which is an integral part of the nation’s health system.

“The motivation behind this project is to enable about 10,000 residents in Dzukogi Abu-tsado area of Bida to have access to a functional basic health care facility,” he said.

Niyi-Isaiah explained that his intervention would directly reduce the overwhelming burden on the tertiary healthcare centres and also support the Federal Government agenda on revitalisation of primary healthcare centre in each of the political wards in Nigeria.

“l can boldly say that as a Youth Corp member, I have contributed my own quota toward achieving this goal.

“If my name fades from this building, the people of Bida community will not forget the impact of NYSC on the community.

” I have also achieved some personal community development service project which I have been able to mobilise resources and volunteers to successfully implement,” he said.

He said the services he rendered included deworming of 2,000 schools children, free skills acquisition programme and entrepreneur seminars for secondary school students.

Others included construction of incinerator box for medical waste disposal in Bida community.

Edited by Tayo Ikujuni and Abdullahi Yusuf


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FEATURE: Tackling endemicity of open defecation in Nigerian communities



Tackling endemicity of open defecation in Nigerian communities, By Nana Musa, Nigeria News Agency

Open defecation is still very rampant in Efut Akaietta-Mbutu community, Calabar South Local Government Area of Cross River.

The residents whose main occupation is fishing defecate in the same river, the source of water supply for their domestic use.

“We defecate in the same river we fetch our drinking water, bath and also fish to earn our living because there is no standard place for defection in our community,” Mr. Kufre William, a fisherman said.

“Most times, people in our community go to the river to defecate, due to lack of adequate toilet facilities,” Enobong Ekong, a resident of the community echoed.

William and Ekong spoke during a field trip to the community organized by UNICEF.

William and Ekong attributed the prevalence of open defecation in the area to lack of toilet facilities.

They said that digging of pit latrine was very expensive because of the topography of the area.

William said: “We have appealed several times to the local and state governments to intervene, but we are yet to get help or get positive response from them.

“We know that as long as we use water from this river, it will affect our health, but we don’t have any alternative.

“To worsen the situation, there is no hospital or any medical center within our community; we pay N500 transport to the nearest general hospital.

“Many families do not have toilets; most of them indulge in open defecation when the need arises for them to respond to the call of nature.”

The traditional ruler of the community, His Highness Ndabo Eyamba, who spoke, appealed to the government to come to the assistance of the community.

“ Our people are facing a lot of challenges, the pit toilets we usually dig do not last up to six months before collapsing, because of the swampy nature of the environment.

` The people as a result of poverty cannot afford modern toilets with solid materials and proper sewage disposal facilities.’’

Eyambo lamented the absence of government’s presence in the community, pointing out that there is no public toilet, pipe borne water, good roads and hospitals in the community.

“ We do not have pipe borne water here, the few boreholes we have here are through community efforts and few individuals, making it difficult for many villagers to access potable water, we do not have clinics and hospitals for handling emergency situations when our people fall sick”, he said.

A community leader, Chief Ene Antigha, said that open defecation had impacted negatively on the health conditions of the residents.

He said that drinking water from unhygienic sources had contributed to cases of cholera, diarrhea, ringworm, among others recorded in the area.

According to him, the main challenges facing the community are lack of toilets, potable water, and good roads.

“Adults in the community defecate in the river and gutters; we are begging the government to come and look at how they can stop this, because of the bad water, diseases are rampant here.

“We do not have good source of potable water and as such, many lives are lost due to infection from water borne diseases.”

UNICEF Communication Specialist, Dr. Geoffrey Njoku, says open defecation portrays Nigeria in bad light before the international community.

“Nigeria loses about 1.3% (N455 billion) of GDP annually due to poor sanitation as a result of illness, low productivity, loss of learning opportunities, among others.

“More than 100,000 children under 5 years of age die each year due to diarrhea, of which 90 percent is directly attributable to unsafe water and sanitation.

“Nigeria is the second country with the highest children’s deaths due to diarrhea,” he said.

Mr Ibrahim Conteh, Chief Field Officer, UNICEF, Enugu, who also spoke, said that by 2030, Nigeria was expected to achieve adequate sanitation by paying attention to the needs of women and girls, as they are the most vulnerable to water borne disease infection.

According to him, when that is done, it will reduce the impact of open defecation on child development.

Conteh said: “1 in 4 children less than 5 years of age exhibit severe stunting, while 1 in 10 is wasted due to frequent episodes of diarrhea and other Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) related illnesses.”

According to available records, Nigeria ranks second among countries practicing open defecation globally.

The 2018 WASH National Outcome Routine Mapping (WASH NORM) survey showed that 24 percent of the population (47 million), still practice open defecation.

A survey carried out by UNICEF and other partners showed that only 13 out of the 774 local government areas in Nigeria have been certified Open Defecation Free (ODF).

Great effort is needed to ensure that Nigeria becomes Open Defecation Free by 25 and does not take over from India as the number one country practicing open defecation, as India was expected to be open defecation free by 2019.

The State of Emergency in WASH, declared by  President Muhammadu Buhari on November 2018, should be boosted through sustained support and commitment by all stakeholders.

All stakeholders should show commitment to the “Clean Nigeria: Use the Toilet” campaign and enlighten Nigerians on the dangers of open defecation and the need to sustain the universal access to safely managed sanitation in the country.

With sustained enlightenment and massive provision of toilet facilities, Nigeria may realize its ambition of becoming open defecation free by 2025.

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