The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), in collaboration with the National Orientation Agency (NOA) in Kaduna State obtained the commitment of Zazzau Emirate Council to tame malnutrition in the state.
The NOA Director in Kaduna State, Alhaji Zubair Soba, made this known on Tuesday after the advocacy
campaign to Malam Ahmed Bamalli, the Emir of Zazzau in Zaria.
Soba said the advocacy visit was to seek for the support of the council to work toward curtailing malnutrition and strengthen infant and maternal health in the state.
He said the advocacy became imperartive, “because the infant and maternal indices in Kaduna State
is alarming, in spite of investments by the state government and development partners to tame the challenge.
“The advocacy team intends to obtain suggestions from the council on better ways of encouraging men to
key into the fight against malnutrition and other good reproductive health practices.”
He, therefore, commended the emir for the warm reception given to the nutrition committee, which included officials from Kaduna State Government and relevant stakeholders.
Ms Chinwe Ezeife, UNICEF Nutrition Specialist, Kaduna Field Office, said the advocacy was to promote consumption of nutritious foods that would enhance the health of women and children.
She said the advocacy had achieved remarkable successes in many areas, saying that the royal father’s pledge to influence behavioral change was a huge leap to healthy living.
Ezeife said the team was pleased that it had a dialogue with the emir and the entire district heads in the Zazzau emirate.
“The district heads will in turn go to their districts, communities and catchment areas to mobilise other influencers to promote key messages with a view to taming malnutrition.
“The advocacy was to create awareness on nutrition and utilisation of good natural foods and encourage breastfeeding in the first one hour of birth and exclusive breastfeeding for six months.”
Meanwhile, Malam Sani Hassan, the Technical Adviser, Kaduna State Nutrition Action Plan, said, “about 99 per cent of women in Kaduna State are aware of the benefits of early initiation to breast feeding and dangers of early weaning to brain development of infants.
“But only 27 per cent of women practice exclusive breastfeeding in the state, while less than 50 per cent initiate breastfeeding within the first one hour after birth of a child.
“Your highness, there is a huge gap between knowledge and practice, hence the need for your intervention to encourage and enlighten husbands to key into this initiative.”
In his remarks, Bamalli, said the council has a good health structure and would deploy similar strategy as used in polio to tame malnutrition and improve maternal mortality indices in the state.
“We will always support these kind initiatives, aimed at improving the health and welfare of our people, especially women and children.
“The entire district heads of Zazzau emirate are around; we need more literature on this topic and soft copies of your presentations so that we will have more follow-up questions,’’ he said. (NAN)