An NGO, Save the Children International (SCI), has engaged Ward Development Committees (WDCs) as part of strategy to sustain advocacy campaign against malnutrition in rural communities in Kaduna State.
The NGO’s Nutrition Advocacy Advisor, Malam Isah Ibrahim, made this known in Kaduna on Saturday, at the close of a two-day training for 22 WDCs from Kauru Local Government Area.
Ibrahim explained that the WDCs would specifically promote the demand and uptake of nutrition services in rural communities and increase their voice in pushing for improved nutrition funding and accountability.
He explained that the WDCs were established as a platform to encourage community participation around maternal and newborn health services, uptake of nutrition, access to sexual and reproductive health services at primary healthcare facilities.
He said that currently, 50.5 per cent of children under five years in the state were stunted, 2.3 per cent severely malnourished, while 24.3 per cent others were underweight.
“It is important to note that poorly nourished children are more susceptible to chronic diseases and more likely to have cognitive deficits as adults, leading to lower economic productivity.
“This situation has a serious implication for the health and economic growth and development of the state.
“It is against this development that SCI is engaging the WDCs to promote the demand and uptake of nutrition interventions through mobilization of community members and policy makers at LGA levels,“ he said.
The advocacy advisor said that SCI, in partnership with the state Primary Health Care Development Agency, and Planning and Budget Commission, had earlier engaged WDCs in Soba and Jaba Local Government Areas.
He said that the WDCs in the two pilot LGAs had successfully engaged other community influencers and officials, including lawmakers representing various constituencies at the state and LGA levels.
“This is why SCI extended the intervention to Kauru LGA,“Ibrahim said.
According to him, the training was designed to sensitize the WDCs on their roles in promoting uptake of nutrition services and mobilising stakeholders to sustain nutrition interventions at LGAs and ward level.
“It is also to build the committee’s capacity to raise community awareness on the magnitude of malnutrition among women and children and the dangers of Breast Milk Substitute (BMS) and other infant formula.
“It is equally to strengthen participants’ understanding on the importance of exclusive breastfeeding and need to push policy makers at LGA levels to improve investment in the fight against malnutrition.“
Mrs Rahila Maishanu, Desk Officer, Breast Milk Substitute, National Agency for Food and Drugs Administration and Control (NAFDAC) urged the WDCs to sensitise communities against using breast milk substitute.
Maishanu said the breast milk contains all the needed nutrients, vitamins and minerals for the baby and free, while using BMS would cost a family at least N7,500 every week.
Edited by Shuaib Sadiq/Maharazu Ahmed
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