The Federal Ministry of Health and United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) will be jointly roll out a Micronutrient Powder (MNP) programme to benefit 96,000 children under five years in three local government areas of Kaduna State.
Nutrition Specialist, UNICEF Kaduna, Chinwe Ezeife said this during a courtesy visit to key government agencies (Ministry of Health, State Primary Health Care Development Board (SPHCDB), and Planning and Budget Commission) in Kaduna where she introduced the programme and secured government commitments to scale up the programme.
She said the powder, which was enriched with 15 vitamins and minerals, would be piloted in three Local Government Areas which are Zaria, Igabi, and Zangon Kataf adding that health workers, parents and caregivers would be trained on how to use the home-based food fortification powder for children from six to 59 months.
She described the MNP as a “highly effective preventive intervention” against malnutrition urging the state government to scale it up to other LGAs as a routine intervention in health facilities.
“The programme will enrich complementary feeding component of infant and young child feeding as a low-cost high impact preventive intervention,” she said.
Principal Nutrition Officer, Nutrition Division, Federal Ministry of Health, Adenike Bayode commended the state government for the huge investment in nutrition and a robust integrated health plan.
She said the federal government through the Federal Ministry of Health would support the Kaduna state government with 423 cartons of MNP that would benefit 96,000 children in the three LGAs.
She urged the state government to support the programme and make a budgetary allocation to sustain it, given its effectiveness in preventing malnutrition in Borno, Adamawa and Yobe states, where it was first implemented.
“The support was in line with the Federal Ministry of Health’s focus on preventive measures, haven noticed that malnutrition sets in mostly after six months of exclusive breastfeeding.
“MNP is the way to go because it cost 160 dollars (N65,600) to treat one malnourished child with ready to use therapeutic food,” she said.
Responding, the Commissioner for Health, Amina Mohammed-Baloni, lauded the initiative, stressing that it would be more effective if integrated with existing programmes.
The commissioner said that linking the MNP programme with beyond primary health care to include secondary and tertiary facilities would ensure the success of the programme.
She said that the ministry’s Nutrition Unit would soon come on stream to ensure adequate planning and nutrition response in secondary and tertiary facilities in the state.
Earlier, Chief, Kaduna Field Office, UNICEF, Zakari Adam expressed optimism that the programme would succeed in Kaduna state considering the state’s huge commitment to addressing malnutrition.