The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), has rolled out a Community Infant and Young Child Feeding (C-IYCF) programme in Ikara Local Government Area of Kaduna State.
Mrs Chinwe Ezeife, the Nutrition Specialist, UNICEF, Kaduna, disclosed this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Friday.
Ezeife described C-IYCF as a preventive programme against all kinds of malnutrition among children under five years, through a community-based approach.
She said under the programme, health workers and community volunteers would educate and enlighten mothers and caregivers on benefits of good feeding practices.
The nutritionist said the aim of the programme was to promote the use of locally available nutritious food items for the feeding of children who are less than five years of age.
According Ezeife, C-IYCF ensures a strong start in life for children, through early initiation of breastfeeding within an hour of birth and exclusive breastfeeding for at least six months.
“This will be followed by appropriate complementary feeding after six months while continuing breastfeeding for 24 months and beyond.
“This is a good initiative to prevent malnutrition among children under five years and UNICEF is supporting the intervention in 17 LGAs of the state.
“UNICEF is committed to ensuring that this optimal infant and young child feeding practices is scaled up and strengthened among mothers, women of childbearing age and caregivers in communities in the state.”
Ezeife explained that UNICEF in collaboration with the State Primary Health Care Board had begun training healthcare workers on the C-IYCF counseling package to improve the quality of nutrition service in health facilities.
Mrs Chinyere Ekwueme, Master Trainer on Community Infant and Young Child Feeding Counseling Package, told NAN that 25 health workers and seven local government officials were undergoing the training.
Ekwueme, who is facilitating the training in Ikara, said that the trainees were expected to step down the training to their colleagues in their various health facilities.
She added that critical local government officials who would play supervisory roles were equally participating in the training.
According to her, they include the local government Nutrition Focal Person, Water Sanitation and Hygiene Coordinator, Social Mobilisation Officer, Health Secretary, Reproductive Health Coordinator, Head of Agriculture and Health Management Information System Officer.
Ekwueme said Community Management of Acute Malnutrition (CMAM) was very expensive, adding that getting C-IYCF right would go a long way in preventing malnutrition among children and reduce the need for CMAM intervention.
The LGA nutrition focal person, Mr Mustapha Sani, commended UNICEF for the initiative, adding that the step would significantly reduce the prevalence of malnutrition in the area.
Sani told NAN that Ikara was among the LGAs with high levels of malnutrition in the state, with 1,140 malnourished children admitted in the CMAM centres between January and June.
Also speaking, Head Secretary, Dr Yahuza Mohammed, equally commended UNICEF for the support, stressing that preventing malnutrition through optimal breastfeeding practices and using locally available food was cost effective.
Mrs Ramatu Musa, the State Nutrition Officer, said that the government would continue to collaborate with development partners to improve the nutritional status of women and children in the state.